August’s “Encouraging Word”
by Tony Cooper, Executive Director (for Birmingham Christian Family magazine)
DYING TO LIVE
You may have heard the saying, “prior to a resurrection, there has to be a crucifixion.” In other words, if you want a new life you will need to leave the old one behind. One of my favorite Bible verses is Galatians 2:20 which says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Three more verses that echo this idea. II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation (creature); the old has gone, the new has come!” Romans 12:1 tells us, “to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” And Romans 6:4 adds, “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Jesus affirms in Matthew 16:24-25 that, “‘if anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it.’”
As a follower of Christ we have experienced a spiritual birth; we’ve been born again (John 3:3) and have the Holy Spirit living within us (I Corinthians 3:16). However, there is spiritual conflict within every Christian. Galatians 5:17 says, “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 what do you do? You desire to be filled with God’s Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), live by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), and be led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18). Within each of our lives there is a cross and a throne. Our old sin nature must be nailed to the cross and Christ should be on the throne. Often times we try to get back on the throne, but with God’s help we can make sure this doesn’t happen!
We need to see sin and selfishness for what they are; damaging, destructive and deadly. Romans 12:9 instructs us to, “hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” When you sin, have a genuine remorse. II Corinthians 7:10 reminds us that, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret.” Finally, I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify (cleanse) us from all unrighteousness.”
Now that is an encouraging word!
See the magazine’s online version here.