Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Rayola Kelley

Last month, we considered the seasons of our Christian life. It was a beautiful way to remind us of Resurrection Sunday. This celebration does not remind us of the life Jesus lived on this earth. Rather it reminds us of the life Jesus freely gives to all who believe the truth about God and about Him. He mentioned this fact in His prayer to the Father on the night He was betrayed, as recorded in John 17:3: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

   The life of Jesus in us is not only eternal, but it possesses resurrection power. Jesus declared this to Martha just before He raised her brother Lazarus: “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 12:25-26).

What is the significance of this glorious resurrection power? John 5:24-26 states: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given the Son to have life in himself.”

It is God’s heart to raise us up to everlasting life. It is Jesus’ life in us that will rise up to embrace the eternal reality of God. Others will be raised by Christ, but it will be unto the resurrection of damnation (John 5:29).Therefore, we must have His very life in us to experience the resurrection life.

It is vital that we determine how the life of Christ is manifested in us. The Apostle Paul gives us the first indication of how this new life will present itself. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The Apostle Paul is verifying that we will be new creations. Does this mean that our personality or outward appearance will change? The answer is, our personality will reflect a new countenance, but the outward man will be the same.

What does it mean that our personality will reflect a new countenance? This points to the fact that there will be a new disposition. In other words, we will have a new heart that is inclined towards God and a new spirit that will not give in to the tendency to justify sin, but will desire righteousness. This new disposition will be reflected in our personality. As we give way to the new disposition, our agendas will change, our perception of God will be constantly enlarged, and our attitude towards life will be upright.

The real issue is, what disposition reigns. Sadly, many new believers start out with a new-found zeal about following God, but they fail to deny themselves from certain aspects of the old, selfish disposition, and set their affections on Jesus to become crucified to the world. As a result, the new disposition will begin to be drowned out by the old disposition. There will be a conflict between the Spirit and the flesh. Peace will elude the person as he or she becomes lukewarm towards God and less discerning about the condition of his or her spiritual environment or temperament (1 Corinthians 2:13-14; Galatians 5:16-18; 6:14; Colossians 3:1-3). How do we obtain this disposition, and then ensure that it is developed in us through the work of the Spirit?

Born Again: There is only one way of obtaining a new disposition and that is by being born again of the Spirit and the Water (the Word). Our spirit becomes revived as the Spirit of God comes to dwell in us. We will have the Touch of heaven to encourage us, the Voice of heaven to guide us, and the Teacher of heaven to make the Word of God alive unto us. We will be born of the Word, for it is by faith that we will respond to it. His Word will become truth to us, and as we walk it out by faith in obedience, it will become life to our spirits (John 6:63; 16:7-14; Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 2:8-9; James1:7-26; 1 Peter 1:23). It will enable us to face reality, endure challenges, overcome temptation, and discover greater depths in God.

 If we are born again, we will be uncomfortable with sin, desirous to please God, and possess the goal to do His bidding. The Apostle John tells us in His epistle that those who are born again do not walk in sin (1 John 3:9-10). Some Christians ask me how they can know they are saved. It comes down to your attitude towards sin. There is no way that the righteous disposition of Jesus in you would be attracted to sin, nor would it be comfortable walking in it. Granted, we might fall into sin, but we will never be content to remain in it because it runs contrary to our new disposition.

Transformed Mind: The disposition represents the heart of a person, but the mind points to the temperament of a person. The temperament of a person will affect how he or she looks at life. Those who have a lousy temperament will also possess a lousy outlook on life. Temperament will also determine our attitude towards God. Keep in mind, our attitude is a manifestation of our disposition. It will reflect the essence of our soul. However, the mind will determine if we will possess the necessary integrity to ensure change in our life.

Today, many people are walking around in defeat. They know that certain aspects or practices in their lives are wrong, but they do not know how to overcome. Some try to fill their lives with the things of God, only to discover a destructive pattern that raises its head in mockery. It is at this point that the things of God bring shame and condemnation, rather than liberty. However, the problem does not rest with us coming to terms with something on an intellectual basis. Rather, it comes down to our minds being transformed by the Spirit and renewed daily by the Word (Romans 12:2;Ephesians 4:22-23).

Integrity plays an important part in ensuring that we possess a right spirit to ensure that our minds are renewed daily by the Word. If people do not have integrity, they will walk in darkness or delusion about their temperament. Instead of the Word stripping them of their cloaks and religious masks to expose their mean-spirited temperament, they will take the Word to justify themselves in their own eyes. They will mishandle it, as their idea of righteousness is exalted over the righteousness of the Word of God. They will believe they are right, but their ways are the ways of death and destruction (Proverbs 14:12; 16:2; Hebrews 4:12).

It is only through integrity that a person can be both honest and humble about what ails their spiritual life. Many people can prove to be honest when they are exposed, but few have humility. It is humility that allows us to honestly face our weaknesses in the light of God’s solution. As long as we think we are responsible to change ourselves, we will never come to God, seeking out necessary change. It is only when we humble ourselves before God in light of our great need that we can make the necessary determination to let God be God. Notice that it is a determination of the will. This determination is nothing more than faith taking God at His Word and applying it to one’s need.

A transformed mind does not mean a mind that has been changed on the grounds of opinions, or enlightened by information. Rather, a transformed mind is a mind that has been changed in how it thinks. Instead of being conformed to the world’s way of looking at life, it will be transformed to embrace the things of the Spirit. We all start out thinking according to our carnal mind. In layman’s terms, it means that we process things according to our intellectual understanding. This means that we take information and fit it into our understanding. In this self-serving arena, our goal is to understand something for the purpose of influencing or controlling our reality. Since our carnal minds cannot comprehend the infinite character of God, a transformed mind is one that seeks to come to an understanding of God (Proverbs 3:5-7; Romans 8:5-7; 1 Corinthians 2:13-14). The purpose for coming to this understanding is so that we can come into agreement with Him.

Agreement allows God to reason with us about matters to ensure our spiritual maturity and His glory. Such understanding is a heart revelation that changes the disposition of a person. In fact, each new revelation enlarges our mind to embrace the truths of God on a greater level. A transformed mind means a lowly temperament and a meek attitude. Such a mind will allow the Spirit to develop an environment where the inward man is being renewed daily, as he is being conformed to the image of Jesus (Isaiah 1:18; Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:17).

   Godliness: Godliness originates with God. Therefore, it identifies us to Him through our lifestyle. Lifestyle points to our walk. The Word is very clear that if we are of God, we will be walking according to His light, and not according to our former darkness. Our former darkness reminds us that at one time we walked according to our superstitions about God. Superstitions about God means that we are still giving way to the works of the flesh(Ephesians 4:17-24; 5:1-13). At that point, God is nothing more than an intellectual concept that has no real life or dimension. Since our attitude about God was wrong, it will be manifested in our fruits or attitudes towards the world and others.

There are three distinct identifying qualities about godliness. These three qualities are: love, separation and death. We are to walk circumspectly before God and others (Ephesians 5:15). Circumspectly implies being diligent in what we must do, and showing maturity and perfection in how we conduct ourselves.

To walk in godliness, we must possess the benevolent love of God. The Apostle John tells us: “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him” (1 John 2:11). If you have the disposition of Jesus, you will possess benevolent love that is pure before God and sacrificial towards others. It is giving and desires the best for others. Benevolent love is active. Therefore, its goal is to be right before God and to do right by others.

To possess godliness, you must be separated from the world. If you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. If you are a friend of the world, you are committing spiritual harlotry, bringing you to the opposing side of God as an enemy. The world is temporary in nature, but those who do the will of God will live forever. God’s will is that we stand distinct. Distinction points to us being a light in the world.

We cannot be a light in the world unless we are reflecting the light. If we are reflecting the light of Jesus, the world will hate us because it hated Him. Therefore as believers, we will not fit in with the ways of the world because we will not think as the world thinks. We will not be comfortable in the world because the motivating spirit behind us will be contrary to the spirit of the world that encourages rebellion against God’s authority. We will be sojourners who become more detached from the world, as the cross is applied to every way that is contrary to God (John 15:18-19; 17:14; Ephesians 2:2; James 4:4; 1 Peter 2:11; 1 John 2:15-17).

Death to the ways of self and the influence of the world will mark godliness. The more self is put down at the cross and the world loses its influence, the more the life of Christ will be worked in us and through us. Death will do away with the vainglory of self and the fake glory of the world, so that we not only become a reflection of Jesus’ glory, but we will be able to see His glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

There is a veil over the hearts of many. This veil keeps their heart in chains of oppression, while blinding the mind to the real glory of God. If the heart is unable to respond, there will be no transformation of the mind. People remain in the darkness of their own reality and ways (Matthew 6:23; John 3:19-21 ;2 Corinthians 3:13-16). They may try to struggle against the waves of despair without any real success. They will ultimately experience the despair of defeat that robs, kills and destroys their life in God.

It is easy to talk about becoming new creations in Christ. However, the real question is, are we becoming new creations in the way we think and live? Positionally, we have many privileges as children of God, but whether we experience those privileges will always depend on our relationship with God. We are new creations because we are in Christ, but are we becoming new creations because Christ’s very life is being worked in and through us? Are we reflecting the disposition of the old man or are we reflecting the disposition of the new Man?

As new creations, we will reflect the very life of Jesus. It is His life in us that will make us distinct from the rest of the world. However, do you, and do I stand distinct? Are we truly the new creations the Bible talks about? For me, I want to be a new creature that will exemplify Jesus in every way. I do want to stand distinct from the rest of the world because His life is being reflected in and through me.

As we pass through the springtime, let us consider if our spiritual lives are experiencing the new life that is abundantly available through Christ. If not, examine your life. Winter is over and the summer is coming. It is vital that we have been firmly established in the spring to ensure that we will endure the heat of the summer.