RSS

Tag Archives: sin nature

Attacking the Flesh in Water Baptism

I’m posting about our spiritual battle against the flesh – our old man.  In my last article, I talked about defending your mind against the attacks of the sin nature.  Now we want to go on the offensive.

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

We can’t live our whole life playing defense against sin.  According to Paul, the first thing we should be taught is how to put off the old self. Take the war to him.  We need to start seeing some forward momentum.

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 sins.

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 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.

By faith, we see our old self dead and buried under that waters of baptism.  That’s got to be our attitude.  When we rise out of the water, by faith we assume that our old flesh stays under.

This is the first battle in a major campaign against the flesh.  It’s also a major victory.  By your act of obedience, you’ve placed a demand on God, and He completed the work.

Romans chapter 6 continues this thought. 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: Were you baptized in water?  How was your faith released during your water baptism?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 31, 2020 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Spiritual Warfare

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Battlefield of the Mind

In my last post, I started talking about the war that we wage against our own flesh – our sin nature.  We saw that the flesh wages war against our soul.

Your soul is your mind.  It’s who you are.  It’s your soul that decides your course of action.  So, if your flesh can gain victory over it, you’ll carry out the desires of that nature.

Scripture clearly teaches that this is where the first battle is fought.

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Romans 13:11

Before we ever commit a sin, we begin thinking about it.  That’s where we start losing ground.  It all rests upon our thought-life.

I know from experience that it’s nearly impossible to simply stop thinking about something.  Actually, the more you try to “not think about it”, the more you do.

Instead, I’ve found it more effective to start thinking about something different.  The Apostle Paul agrees.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
Romans 8:5

Where you set your mind determines the direction that you head toward.  The word, set, in this verse means to be mentally disposed toward or to interest yourself in.

The direction of your life is determined by the direction of your thoughts.  While you probably won’t be able to stop thinking about something, you can replace it with other thoughts.  You can start thinking in a new direction.

There are so many things to think about.  We need to start disciplining our thought-life.  Stop obsessing over tonight’s basketball game.  Instead, think about what God’s done for you, a Scripture you’ve memorized, or what you expect the Lord to bring about in your life.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

The Bible is very positive.  It usually doesn’t tell you to stop doing something without giving you something to replace it with.  In this case, it’s applied to our thoughts.

There are enough good things to think about without opening our minds to the desires of our sin nature.  However, this requires discipline.  And disciplining ourselves is not usually something we enjoy doing.

The battle against the flesh starts in our minds.  This is the first area of conflict because it’s where the flesh strikes first.  If my old man can get my mind on his side, then that sets the course of my life.

We need to take control of our thought-life.  It may be difficult at first, but it is doable.

From there we can go on to the offensive strikes against the flesh.  I’ll be posting about them as we continue this series.

Question: What do you see as a difficulty in controlling your thought life?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Spiritual Battle #1 – The Flesh

The spiritual war that we find ourselves in has many fronts.  Over the next few posts, I want to talk about them.  The first, and probably the fiercest, is the battle against our own flesh.

The truth is that our flesh puts a ceiling on what we can do for God.  It doesn’t matter how much you want to do God’s will.  Your flesh is your greatest hindrance.

Too many Christians want to take on the devil before they even have a victory on their home turf.  I believe that the enemy gets blamed for some things that we bring on ourselves.  This is the first struggle that we need to face.

Look at how the Apostle Peter describes it.

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
1 Peter 2:11

This is actually a verse that’s rich in description.  We miss it in the English translation.  It literally reads, hold yourself away from the longings of the flesh which is on a military campaign against your soul.

This verse says a lot.  The first thing I see is that my flesh has a will, with desires and longings.  As a matter of fact all the parts of my being – body, soul, and spirit – have a will of their own.

“But I’m not a bad person.  I don’t have any evil intentions.”

Please understand that evil is not the big problem.  That’s not all there is to this struggle.

For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
Galatians 5:17

Your spirit wants to serve and please God.  It wants the Lord’s best for you.  Your spirit desires to see you do great things in the name of Christ.

Your flesh wants just the opposite.  It doesn’t necessarily want you to do evil.  It only wants you to keep from fulfilling God’s plan for your life.  Distraction is one of its chief weapons.

Another thing I learn from Peter’s letter is that my flesh is actually on a military campaign.  Why exactly do you go to war?  Simply put, to win a victory; to dominate and crush your enemy.  That’s the goal of our flesh in regard to our spirit.

But even more than that, a military campaign speaks of something bigger than just a simple “hit and run” exchange.  My flesh is in it for the long haul.  I have to realize that this war is not going away until I receive my resurrected body at the return of Christ.

Too often we get complacent because we see a momentary victory over the flesh.  We think we have everything under control so we get a little lazy.  We stop doing the things that brought us to this level.  We quickly find out that the flesh wasn’t gone, just waiting for a better opportunity to rise up.

How do we overcome in this struggle?  First, I can tell you from experience what doesn’t work.  I’ve tried will-power, New Year’s resolutions, guilt, and self-discipline to tame the flesh.  These are all wasted efforts.

If we’re going to truly walk in victory over our sinful, human nature, then we have to understand the strategy.  Scripture is clear about how this is accomplished.  If we’re going to walk in freedom, then we have to do it God’s way.

Beginning in my next post, I’ll outline the scriptural way to attack and overcome the flesh.  But don’t expect a one-time, do it and forget it solution.  This battle must be fought with consistency for your whole life.

Question: What methods have you tried to overcome the desires of your flesh?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , ,

Do You Know the Two Kinds of Testing?

ClimberWe all go through challenging times in our lives. The Bible calls them trials or tests. None of us are exempt, so we need to be aware of how they function.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

Notice that James is not saying that the trial is a blessing. Our blessing is the result of coming through the test victoriously. If you remember from the first post in this series; it’s our faith that’s tried. This trial then brings perseverance and results in our faith being approved as genuine.

But what exactly are these tests all about? James goes on to explain it to us.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
James 1:13-15

First, we must understand the words being used. In the English Bible, the words temptation, test, and trial all mean different things to us. In the original Greek they’re all the same word. The translators used these different English words depending upon the context.

In this verse, James is only referring to one kind of testing – testing by evil. In this post I want to talk about the two kinds that are spoken of in Scripture.

The first I want to share about is testing by evil. This is usually called temptation by the translators. This is when we are given the opportunity to do something against God’s law or human law. It could also be troublesome, injurious, or destructive to us or others.

In thinking about testing, it’s important that we don’t get our theology from cartoons. There isn’t any little demon or angel sitting on our shoulder, whispering into our ears!

James makes it clear that usually the devil is not even involved. I think that we give him too much credit. It’s actually our own flesh that brings on the temptations that we face. We are tempted when our sin nature wants something that’s not God’s best for us. The only way to overcome consistantly is by a lifestyle of fasting and prayer in the spirit. (For more detail on these, click fasting or prayer)

The second kind is testing by God. James only says that God doesn’t use evil to test us, but there is a test that He sets up for us. This happened a lot with Jesus and His disciples.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
John 6:5-6

In this kind of testing, the Lord brings opportunities before us. Their purpose is to show forth the faith that has been produced in us as a result of hearing His Word. He wants us and others to see the growth that’s taking place in us. The result should bring glory to Christ working in us.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:6-7

Knowing these two types of trials will help us to be victorious no matter what challenges we face. As we rely upon the Holy Spirit, we can become mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Question: How has the testing process worked maturity in your Christian walk?

©Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Healing Principles – The Sin Nature

TargetI believe that Christ is the Healer. I believe that in His death, burial, and resurrection He paid the price for all sickness and disease to be healed. That being said, I also understand the reality that not everyone is healed at this point in church history.

Just like it’s God’s desire for all to be saved, I believe He wants us all healthy and whole. But please understand, I’m not one of those who lightly says, “You just didn’t have enough faith” when someone’s not healed.

There are certain kingdom principles that I think we’ve missed along the way. I want to take a few posts to talk about some of these as they relate to the healing that’s available to all believers.

The first is the principle of the sin nature. We need to understand how this relates to sickness. I covered this aspect in great detail in a series I posted called Healing 101. To read that series click here.

The bottom line of what Scripture teaches is that sickness is a part of the sin nature. Let me be clear – sickness is not always caused by a specific sin in our life, but it is a part of the total sin package that Adam embraced.

Sin means to miss the mark. Adam was created to never be sick. Sickness misses the mark of God’s desire for our health. Jesus Christ himself made reference to this fact during His ministry on earth. This took place when a group of men lowered their sick friend to Jesus through a hole they cut in the roof.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”
Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.
Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
Luke 5:20-26

In looking at this event in the life of Jesus, it’s important to note that the Greek word that we translate as forgive literally means to remove. Therefore, according to Jesus’ own testimony, in order to prove that He could remove sin – He removed sickness.

Jesus would not have made such an amazing statement unless it was true. This is one of the most important concepts we need to hear. When a person is healed, a manifestation of the sin nature is removed from their life.

In order to understand how healing works in the church, we must first come to grips with this truth. God feels the same way about sickness that he feels about any other sin – He wants it gone!

That’s good news. I don’t have to worry about whether or not it’s God’s will to heal me. It is. I just need to understand the guiding principles about how that healing is accomplished in me.

Hopefully, over the next few posts I can bring those across. My prayer is that as you read these, you can lay hold of it. If the result is that your healing manifests, please share it with us in the comments so that God can get the glory for His work in you.

Question: How has God healed you in the past?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 23, 2015 in Healing, Ministry, Power of God

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Spiritual Surgery

 

surgeryI’ve been posting about how we deal with our old sin nature. In my last post I said that water baptism was the first step in this process. Through it we identified with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

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

Here Paul tells us that in the same way we trusted Christ in baptism, we must count or literally inventory ourselves dead, indeed, to sin.

This goes right along with our baptism. In verse 3 of Romans chapter 6 we were baptized into His death. Now in verse 11, there’s something that Paul is hoping you’ll move into by faith. Paul describes this step to the Colossian church.

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.
Colossians 2:11-12

This is what we want to concentrate on – the putting off of the sinful nature. According to Paul, this is a surgical procedure that can only be done by Christ.

It isn’t a work I can perform. It doesn’t matter how much will-power I put forth. Only Christ, Himself, can bring it to pass in my life. I must submit under the blade of the divine Surgeon.

There are two prerequisites to this surgery. The first is baptism and the second is faith in the power of God. This means that I can’t look to myself and how well I can obey God. It’s all about how much I trust His power working in my life. How much am I willing to surrender to Him?

It’s the same as in the natural world. If I don’t trust the surgeon in a medical procedure, then I will not allow them to put me under the anesthesia.   I’ll only let someone I trust have that much power over my body. Do we trust Christ enough to consent to His life changing work in us?

No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.
Romans 2:29

There’s another key point to this work of Christ in us. It can only be done in the spirit. It’s not something that I can physically accomplish. Neither is it a choice that I make in my mind.

The change is required in my heart. The old self has to be removed. How can my sin nature remove itself? It would never willingly choose to do that.

To get the old sin nature out of our heart requires outside assistance. That’s why it’s a work that only Christ can do, and it must be a spiritual work.

It’s for this reason that an understanding of the Word of God as a sword is so important.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

The sword of the spirit is the scalpel that performs the work in our heart. In the past I’ve emphasized that the things of the spirit can only be received through prayer in the spirit. This is the work that needs to be done in us. It’s a work that must be done in the spirit. Only prayer in the spirit will accomplish the change that’s necessary in our hearts.

In order for God to do this work in us, we must yield ourselves to Him. As in any surgery, we must willingly go under the knife if our healing is to take place. This is true for our spiritual surgery as well.

Question: How has Prayer in the Spirit changed your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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

Which Criminal are You?

CrossesWe all want to experience the resurrection power of Christ in our lives. We just don’t like the road that it takes to get there. Paul understood what needed to happen to walk in the power.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 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 sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Romans 6:5-7

This is a huge verse. For Paul, it was the foundation for all that he did. He writes that we should know this. But knowing and applying are sometimes two very different things.

The Greek words of this verse say that our old, antique, worn out man is crucified with Him. What does that mean to you? How do you see this taking place on a daily basis? What’s your reaction to it? These are the important questions we all need to deal with.

Actually, we can gain some insight into it by looking at the scene of the Lord’s death on Calvary. There were a couple of people who really were crucified with Christ. What was their reaction?

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
Luke 23:39

Here’s the first response. You’re the Christ. It sounds like there’s some level of belief. But the plea is, “Save yourself AND ME!”

The unfortunate thing about this is that many believers do the same thing. They’ll try everything possible other than crucifying the old nature.

“Lord, surely there must be some way to keep the things I enjoyed about the old man.”

What we need to realize is that it’s because of our sin nature that Christ went to the cross. That’s exactly where our flesh needs to hang. It needs to be done away with, never to be heard from again.

It was the second criminal that got it right.

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:40-43

He understood that the cross was where he belonged. But that wasn’t the end of the story. He was also looking forward to the resurrection power of Christ.

There are two responses to being crucified with Christ. Which do you choose? Keeping the old man as long as you can, trying to make him be good. Or will you nail him to the cross with Christ and open yourself up to the power of the risen Lord.

I want to experience the manifestation of the kingdom of God during this life. To do that I need to make sure that my sin nature is right where it belongs – nailed to the cross with Jesus.

Question: What does it take to crucify the old sin nature?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 10, 2014 in Power of God, Revival

 

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

Healing 101 – Sickness and God’s Will

PillsThroughout both the Bible, God equates sickness with the sin nature.  His treatment of sickness is the same as His treatment of sin – total removal.  In my last post we saw that Jesus taught that sickness was a manifestation of sin.  During His ministry He went about removing sickness.

This proves that sickness is never God’s will for your life.  In the Gospels, there’s no evidence that Jesus refused to heal anybody for any reason.

To prove that God wants you to remain sick, all you have to do is find a verse where Jesus said, “I’m sorry.  I would really like to heal you, but it’s the Father’s will that you bring glory to Him by remaining sick.”

There’s nowhere in the Bible where Jesus ever touched someone and said, “Be blind.  I need to teach you something that you can’t learn any other way.”

You will not find it.  It’s not there.  Jesus healed everyone who came to Him.

What about the apostles?

As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.
Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.
Acts 5:15-16

When the apostles prayed – ALL WERE HEALED!  There are some who say that this was just the infancy of the church.  God wanted to start things off with a bang; a lot of healings right at the beginning to get people’s attention.

So really what these people are saying is that God thought, “I’ll get everybody healed now, to get them excited about the church.  Then, once they get going, I’ll show them what I’m really like.”

The God I serve does not change!  He’s the same yesterday, today and forever.  Look at the testimony from the end of the book of Acts when Paul was shipwrecked on the island of Malta.  During that time he met an official named Publius.

His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him.
When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured.
Acts 28:8-9

All were healed!  What about the next generation of believers?

Based upon my studies, I believe that the book of James was the first book of the New Testament to be written.  It’s our first glimpse into the teaching of the church.  What does Pastor James tell us about the ministry of healing that took place among his people?

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.  If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
James 5:14-15

According to James, all the sick, not just some, could go to the elders and expect to be healed.  Not maybe or most of the time.

We know that confessing sin brings forgiveness.  James only mentioned that once.  He declared the fact of healing twice.

Just because this isn’t our experience, doesn’t make it any less of God’s will.

We need to relearn our knowledge of God’s plan.  God is teaching this truth to the church right now.  We need to trust God for the total restoration of this gift to the church.

Question: Why is it easier to believe that God forgives sin than for Him to heal the sick?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 24, 2014 in Healing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,