RSS

Tag Archives: putting off the old man

Two Births – Water and Spirit

BirthI’ve been posting about the Biblical definition of being born again. It’s more than just praying a single prayer. It’s the whole process of putting off the old man and putting on the new nature in Christ. In my last article we saw that it’s in this way that we experience the manifestation of the Kingdom of God in our lives.

This is one of the failures of the church of our generation. We’re learning the lesson Paul warned the Corinthian church about.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.
1 Corinthians 4:20

When Jesus performed a miracle or healed the sick, the kingdom was present in that place. Now we’ve watered it down. We tell everyone who accepts Christ that they’re born again and in the Kingdom of God. The result is a church with no power. There are few manifestations of the Kingdom in our present culture.

We desperately need a reawakening of the new birth. We need to see it the way the Lord described it. That’s what will change the spiritual landscape of our nation. It will bring revival to our famished souls.

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”
John 3:5

In this verse, Jesus literally says that unless you are born out of water and spirit you have no power to enter the Kingdom of God. Being born again is a spiritual work that requires spiritual power. The next statement of Christ emphasizes this truth.

“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
John 3:6

These verses are foundational to our faith. That which is born of the flesh is fleshly in nature. That which is born of the spirit is spiritual in nature.

The question in all of this is; how is this spiritual work accomplished? Remember, we have the luxury of being able to look back on what Christ has done. This was all new to Nicodemus.

In order to explain the concept to this teacher, Jesus uses a parable.

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
John 3:8

Because of our position in history, we should be better equipped to understand what Christ is trying to get across. Notice that the Lord is speaking about being born of – or literally out of – the spirit.

Jesus was trying to get across a spiritual truth to this Pharisee. In my next post I’ll conclude this series by showing exactly what Jesus is referring to, and what this means to us. We must be born of the spirit if we are to experience the manifestation of God’s power in our lives and ministries.

Question: Why is our spiritual man so important in accessing the power of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

Advertisements
 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Death of the Old Self

 

GravesIn my last post I talked about the circumcision of the heart that puts off the old man. We saw from Scripture that this is accomplished through prayer in the spirit.

This is one of the reasons why prayer in the spirit is so important. It’s also the reason why so few believers win the battle over their flesh. They don’t realize that it can only be won in the spirit by the power of the Word of God released in us. That’s why Paul could say…

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live…
Romans 8:13

This work is only accomplished in the spirit. The misdeeds of my body will never be put to death by any decision that I make – no matter how much I desire it. I can try and try in my own strength. The work is a spiritual breakthrough and only comes as I yield my spirit to the Holy Spirit.

The reality of this is apparent as I look back over recent history. I think about my grandparents’ generation. When I hear the testimonies of how they came to the Lord, I used to get frustrated. Their lives were totally turned around. Before Christ, their lives were characterized by drunkenness, gambling, and foul language.

When I came along, I only knew them as strong believers who told everyone they met about the power of Christ. They were humble examples of the life-changing work of God. Why did this frustrate me? Because I wanted my life to line up with the Word the way theirs did.

When I asked how I could become more like Christ, I was told that I needed to be more committed.

“When those old saints of God were saved, they really submitted themselves to God’s law.”

But it seemed that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t live like them. I was angry that God would change them so radically, while I was left trying on my own to overcome the flesh.

Now that I understand the work of the spirit, I can see what really happened in my grandparents’ lives. It was a spiritual work that changed them. Remembering back to what I saw in them, I now realize what made the difference. The main characteristic of their lives was prayer in the spirit.

They went to church meetings three days a week just to pray in the spirit. I remember hearing my grandmother (I lived with her) get up at 5 in the morning and begin praying in the spirit for hours. This was her daily routine.

I remember hearing people laughing at their commitment to this practice.

“That old Italian prayer meeting went on until midnight yesterday.”

Little did we know that it was the secret to the walk in the spirit that we could never attain to on our own.

I also see the same thing happening today. At one point our church began having a weekly meeting for the sole purpose of prayer in the spirit. This went on for about a year. During that year I remember commenting that those who came out and participated in the prayer were being radically changed.

At that time I didn’t know that they were putting off the old nature through prayer in the spirit. All I understood was that they were undergoing a rapid change in their spiritual walk.

The church needs to once again learn this truth. We need to submit to the Holy Spirit to perform the change in our hearts. Only then will the world see the difference that will draw them to the cross of Christ. Only then will we experience the revival that we so desperately hunger for.

Question: How committed are you to prayer in the spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Baptism and Our Old Self

FlyingIn my last post I started talking about how other generations of believers experienced the transforming power of God. I said that we needed to be retaught what they had learned. I quoted a verse from Ephesians.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24

According to Paul, the first thing we should be taught is how to put off the old self. This is talking about our flesh – the dwelling place of our evil desires. It’s the gift given to us by our ancestor, Adam.

According to James, this is where all of our temptation comes from.

…but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.
James 1:14

Contrary to what we see in the cartoons, it’s not the devil sitting on our shoulder that tempts us. It’s our own flesh that sees something it wants, and tries to get our soul to agree with it. The desires of our flesh – that’s where the battle starts.

Paul wrote a lot about this subject. It’s from his writings that we can learn how to overcome the flesh. It’s in Romans, chapter 6, that he begins dealing with the subject of sin. He tells us that it’s the grace of God that covers our sin.

Paul goes on to ask a question that may sound a little foolish, but it’s one we deal with all the time. Should we sin more in order to get more grace? Obviously not. But he uses the following argument.

By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Romans 6:2-3

Here is a truth – in Christ we’ve died to sin. In the waters of baptism we’ve identified ourselves with the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord. So, we shouldn’t want to live according to our old life. But by the very question he asks, he implies that it’s possible to live in sin even though we died to it. How can we get the victory over this sin?

It all starts with our water baptism. This is where we identify with Christ. This is where we begin the process of removing the old man. Peter agrees with Paul’s assessment.

…and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also — not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…
1 Peter 3:21

The word pledge in the above verse means the asking, desire or demand. When we allow ourselves to be baptized in water, we are placing a demand on God for a good conscience. Because we desire to live rightly before Him, we take this step. It’s how we start down the road to remove the old sin nature.

That’s also how Romans chapter 6 starts. The first 10 verses describe our identification with Christ through water baptism. Then, in verse 11, Paul brings out the next step in the process.

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

The words in the same way let us know that this is a new truth. You were baptized, and by faith identified with the death of Christ. In the same way that you trusted God for this, now go on to the next step of faith. I’ll talk about that step in my next post.

Questions: How was your faith released during your water baptism? Were you baptized in water?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,