1. And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2. in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
2 Peter 1:3-4
3. seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of [the] divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
The verses from Ephesians speak about our "old" nature, before we knew Jesus. It clearly says we were dead, living in the lusts of our flesh, and children of wrath. The verses from 2 Peter tell us that we have escaped the corruption and are now partakers of the "divine" nature of God. Comparing these two verses show us that we didn't add a new nature on top of the old, but we exchanged our nature.
I have a great example, that all of us moms can appreciate (dad's too, or anyone else who has been around a baby). As babies go there is the obligatory dirty diaper to deal with. What if instead of taking off the diaper in question and doing a clean up, we just decided to put a new fresh diaper on top of the old dirty one? Well, that would solve nothing, huh? Dirty, stinky, messy, and uncomfortable. Putting a fresh clean diaper on over the filthy one would do nothing to change us, only "appear" fresh on the outside. But it wouldn't take long for the "stink" to find it's way out, and some other unsavory "matter" also.
Salvation and putting on the "new" nature of Jesus Christ is a "change" in the best way of thinking. The old dead, stinky life we used to lead is exchanged for the new fresh clean "nature" that God will give us.
for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light
This scripture that we looked at on Friday really says it. We were not IN darkness, but we WERE darkness. At salvation we don't walk into the light, we BECOME light. Just as Jesus is light, we are in Him and He is in us, so we become light. God has changed our basic nature from darkness to light. We aren't just thinking about improving our nature, our nature is already changed. We need to learn how to walk in harmony with our new nature.
We need the nature of Christ within us so we can BE like Christ, not just ACT like Christ. We were not given the power to imitate Jesus, but to really BE like Him. Becoming a Christian is not a matter of acting like one until you become one, it is a matter of becoming a Christian, then we learn to walk as one. We are not based on performance to become a Christian. "Measuring up" and doing good deeds will never get us to heaven. To address the idea of "gaining our way to heaven" with good intentions and good deeds doesn't fit the Biblical criteria for salvation. We could never be good enough or do enough good deeds. Our salvation is based on our acceptance of Jesus Christ and nothing else.
God knows we cannot solve our problems of our "old nature"; our old sinful self by simply improving our behavior. He doesn't say "Here are my standards, now you need to measure up to all the rules and regulations." In fact He did allow that for a time, and that was known as the dispensation of "the Law". (the Old Testament during the time of Moses until the time of Jesus.) And by the way, we didn't do a good job. He knew He would have to change our nature. He has to give us an entirely new self, the life of Christ in us, which in turn provides the grace to allow us to change.
This fact that we have a new nature is really exciting to me. Years ago when I was struggling with wrong behaviors and bad habits the knowledge of this radically changed my thinking. "You mean I'm not trapped in the sin cycle?" That one piece of information was enough to wake me up. It was a long road, and I'm still not "there" but finding out that I wasn't on a treadmill of sin operated by the enemy was absolutely liberating.
We are starting to get into the "meat" of this study. Hope the new schedule will be easier to keep up with. Thank you everyone. I know that many of you take time out of your super busy schedules to meet here everyday. You cannot know how much I appreciate each and every one of you!
love, in Jesus,
(concepts taken from Victory Over the Darkness
by Neil Anderson)