(Understanding Repentance part 2)
In 'Understanding repentance' we saw that repentance means turning the eye of our heart to focus on Jesus as He really is. This makes a lot more sense when we understand the nature of the two life flows that exist within us. I say life, but really the flow of self or 'flesh' based life is actually death because it comes from a place that is dead to the Life of God in Jesus Christ. His Life is alive and present within us from the moment we genuinely surrender to Him from the heart.
1 John 1 is a chapter that seems strange to many Christians. This is because it appears to be full of statements that contradict. I think that John had reasons for writing it like that and I will try to set it in order for you as I believe I have been shown.
Background and definitions
The way I see that we are made up inside is that there are two streams of existence inside us. One is full of His life and the other is full of death (the biblical definition for separation from Him). We also have an 'identity' part of us that is the essential core of you or me and this is where we choose whether to be emotional or not, to listen to the demands of the body or not, to be involved in someone else’s pain or not, to be happy or dissatisfied with our lot, or to choose between Jesus Lordship or what the self 'I' wants. The way I am using the word 'self' is different from some other definitions. However, I believe I am being consistent with what Jesus taught in terms of denying self and taking up our cross daily in Luke 9:23 ( also Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34)
John the Baptist preached about this as recorded in Matthew 3:11, 12 , I indeed baptise you with water to repentance. But He who comes after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He shall baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire; whose fan is in His hand, and He will cleanse His floor and gather His wheat into the storehouse; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. and in Luke 3:16-17 . John answered all, saying, I indeed baptise you with water, but He who is mightier than I comes, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to loose. He shall baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire, whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor and will gather the wheat into His storehouse. But He will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Wheat and chaff grow on the same plant. A dictionary definition of chaff is: husks or other seed coverings and other plant parts separated from seed during harvest or processing. Wheat is the useful grain and chaff is the left over rubbish to be burned. In the above parable used by John the Baptist, wheat is the new creature spirit part of us, while chaff is the selfish, carnal "old" part of us that is necessary for our survival in this world until our last day here. Chaff, or the stalk and husk serves the purpose of keeping the wheat grains up out of the earth and in the air where it will grow well and not decay until the wheat is ripe and ready for harvest.
Looking at 1 John
The key to 1 John is to identify statements that belong to the spirit or 'new creature' part of us and which statements that belong to the selfish, 'old creature' or 'fleshly', 'carnal' nature that is also present in us. The good news is that self is stripped away at our last day on this planet and is destined for the lake of fire, so you don't have to put up with it forever.
Whichever life source you choose at any moment will flow out through your soul, then through your body and out into the world into all you do and say. (Matthew 6:22, 23 )
Sin means 'to miss the mark' or 'not share in the prize' and is all that operates contrary to his will and nature. Light is His glorious substance - the essence of who He is.
Thinking it through
1) How do you think about the new creature or spirit part of us and what it is?
Christians vary in their opinions about this. Most appear to believe that we are a new creation from the moment we are born again. However there seems to be some confusion about how it works in practise. Some think that there is something wrong with them because they feel like they live there only a small part of the time.
2) How do you think about the old creature or self/flesh part of us and what it is?
Most Christians seem to understand that this is "the flesh" in action, carnal in nature and sinning, but not many see the old creature or self as a separate part of us that can be controlled.
3) What do you think about your ability to switch between the two?
This is a new thought for many Christians who have been struggling to live 'good lives' by denying self. Those who have seen that the way is to focus on Jesus in the heart and let His life deal with self, or the old creature do have an advantage here. Most agree that this internal selector switch seems hard to control directly, but can be influenced.
When we take a look through 1 John
thinking about new creature and old creature, the statements he makes start to make a lot more sense. 1 John 1:1-2
declare That Jesus is the Life. We also see a description like this in the gospel of John 1:
is the motivation existing in our new creature place that there might be partnership (fellowship) between us because the Life makes us partners with the Father and the Son and therefore with each other. Furthermore this Life that is partnership with Jesus Christ inside us brings about fullness of quiet bubbling joy.
All of this so far has been about the nature of the new creation inside us, birthed according to John chapters 1-3
. This verse declares even more; that in God there is light and no darkness at all for that is also true of us when we are connected and flowing with Him.
V6 Takes this another step by declaring that if we have fellowship with Him, we do not walk in darkness. How can this be? In the following verse John spells out how it works.
V7 Walking in the light as he is in the light, can only happen through connection to His life and that only happens as we live out of the new creature part of us centred in our spirit. It is also the only way that we have true fellowship with one another, and here is the really awesome part; that as we walk there, His blood cleanses (gk-present tense continuous cleansing) us from all sin.
I will illustrate this by answering the question “what happens when you have had a great worship time and you feel really different as a result?” Have you wondered where that comes from and what takes it away? The reason you feel different and good about things that were getting to you before worship is that you are now connected to your new creature, and you can enjoy this until you are pushed back into your old creature space. Praise and worship is a personal key for many Christians.
V8 If we say that we have no old creature, then we are liars because all sin is the life flow that comes through the selfish old creature part of us. That is why Paul explains in Galatians 5 that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self control. Do you feel selfish when you have been in a connected worshipful state with Him? No, of course not!
This is the difference between the two natures within us. One loves to be in tune with Father and flowing with Him, and the other doesn’t. Father's unselfish love really doesn’t connect at all with the selfish old creature that wants it all on its own terms. The old creature even wants His blessing on its own terms and there is even a part of self that is in fact deeply religious because it loves rules, rituals and formulas that substitute for a dynamic connected walk with God.
V9 If we will be totally honest with Him about when we catch ourselves in old creature mode, He is so faithful that He will instantly forgive and cleanse us so we can reconnect into New Creature mode. This is our Father's Grace and Love in action and shows how much He cares for His Family members to be up and walking again.
V10 If we try to deny that we have an old nature we call Him a liar, for He has already told us what flows from the heart of man and it's not the nature of our Father. John goes further to say that His revealed word is not in us if we either have no awareness of our sinful old creature’s true nature, or are still trying to justify it. Don’t bother arguing with someone that doesn’t see this because it means Father hasn’t spoken to them yet.
Ch 2:1- 2 John’s motivation in writing this is so that we understand how it works and never shift out of New Creature connection into sin again. He also reminds us that, if we do, we have Jesus Christ the Righteous who has already done all that needs to be done to deal with it.
How do we know that we know Him? Because we live (v4
Keepeth=guard his precepts) His Words. The key is that the New Creature or 'spirit man' part of us loves to keep His words, flows with His nature and knows His heart, and all of that is foreign to the old creature. V4
This word 'know' is to know absolutely. A deep knowing of Him. It is heart to heart, and revelation to revelation. The good news here is that your New Creature does know Him deeply, because that is what He is connected to and where He dwells in us. The result is that we walk this earth in the same way that He did, as we learn to live in daily New Creature connection.
The rest of this letter from John makes sense when we read it from the point of view of life flows and what each life flow looks like.
For example 1 John 2:22 applies to the old creature as do v16 and 17. V20 applies to New Creature as do v10, 12,13, 14 ,15 .
This letter is a very matter of fact statement of what each nature looks like. It is a great encouragement to choose to flow with the life and goodness and wonderful connection to all that God is in our New Creature. It also encourages us to reckon, or count, the old creature as dead and having nothing of worth.
Self/old nature can never be justified. Instead, God gives us His life which never needs justifying.
The Spiritual Dynamics of this
The New creation or spirit man in each of us is connected to Him at new birth. This connection is never broken by Him. We will feel like it is broken at times but that is not the truth. Those feelings come out of choices we make that put the veil back up between the spirit-soul connection inside us and so are only the ”pangs of death”.
I call them that because God’s definition of death is separation from Him. Because the connection is never broken by Him to our spirit, we are never really dead. But we get to be feeling like it because we have just been living out of self. The reason for this is that self always puts the veil back up because it is by nature antichrist.
The new creation part of a person who is surrendered to Jesus is imbued with, or full of, His Life and power. This new creation part of us is the source of Jesus righteousness that flows from within us outwards to others and to the world.
The old self creature is the source of sin and interference with His Life within us. Antichrist is not only a spirit 1 John ch2:18,22; ch4:3; 2 John 7 but has beginnings within us and is centred in self. Because of this, the works of self can become witchcraft so the choice we must get used to flowing into, is to live out of new creature or spirit within us instead of the old. Then we pour out effective life to all around us. The new creature part of us then instantly deals with self Galatians 5:23 by that powerful connection with the Holy Spirit.
New Creature Activation
A daily walk of surrender, repentance, baptism and empowerment is how to continue to activate the new creature already within a child of God. For many this comes down to heart focus on righteousness consciousness vs sin consciousness. The freedom of believing we walk as His sons vs self condemnation attitudes of “I am only a worm in God’s sight”.
It is important to resist pride and the only way to do that is to practise surrender to Jesus through maintaining an internal focus on surrendering to “Jesus in me”. This can be understood by picking up on a powerful image parable of being the temple of the Holy Spirit, and then believing that we are "tabernacles" or walking portable temples of God Himself.
So who are you? –The reality of this is that God has made you able to be the portable temple of God almighty. In your new creature place, you are a powerful spiritual being in surrendered partnership with God. When we begin to dare to believe that, we find that it becomes reality in our experience. We the children of God ARE the Redeemed and we ARE undergoing the working out of that redemption, so we should start to dare to truly believe it.
The son of God part of you does not sin.
1John 3v9 Everyone who has been born of God does not commit sin, because His seed remains in him, and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. When you start to believe that, you will not be trapped by sin consciousness and the resulting self-condemnation that dis-empowers you by breaking your connection to the new creature within you. That is why God hates self condemnation so much that He came in the person of Jesus Christ to remove all the penalties due to you from sin.
He who knew no sin was made to be sin for you so that you would be made the righteousness of God in Christ, forever able to enjoy His Fatherhood. This is because He has given you as a free gift a place to stand before Him that cannot be taken away except by your self-condemnation. You now have control over whether or not you live out of His presence within you. So choose Life. Choose to align with the precepts and law of the spirit of Life that His Kingdom runs by. NOT the law of Moses or any other law.
Discipling is a journey and Jesus commission is about achieving it. Discipling should be about those who have already been there helping others to get there also, not someone only "one step ahead helping another who is one step behind" them on the journey.
Unfortunately, Discipling is something that some Christians tend to expect to fall out of the sky at God’s pleasure, instead of being a natural and real part of being the Family of God with others.
Authority is something that we have but do not understand and our journey suffers accordingly.
Miracles are the normal Christian life, intended by God to follow beside our walk, but some Christians run about seeking to be spectators of them.
I mentioned above that there are keys that help to regain New Creature connection. Singing praise and worship songs works for many people, and Paul mentioned some others that I have tried and found useful like 1 Thessalonians 5:14 - 23 among others.
See that none gives evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue the good, both towards one another and towards all.
1Th 5:16 Rejoice evermore.
1Th 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
1Th 5:18 In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
More keys - Philippians 4:4-9
Some Christians find that walking in nature is a key, while others thrive from reading the Bible. Another method is to try to notice when a thought process comes that brings a sense of connection and His peace. Whatever the method, experimenting further while asking for Father's help and wisdom is often very helpful. He has made us all a bit different from each other so the keys that work for me won't necessarily work for you and vice versa. That is why I wish to encourage you to find what works for you, so that when you find that your switch has gone to self, you can make it switch back to your spirit or New Creature place.