by Jon Reeverts
As I listened to Gov. Cuomo’s live news conference today and he talked of returning to a “new normal”, he emphasized that life will and must not be what it was before. He said that there has to be a transformation that takes place for us to move forward. We can’t think and live like we did before. Well, that’s Biblical thinking - even if he may be unaware of it.
Romans 12: 1-2 says: Therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
That may sound like just a bunch of churchy words, but since we have opened the door, let’s walk through the doorway. There is a way that this world says you have to live - it’s being exerted on us everyday right now, but even if you roll back the calendar, it was telling you how to live through a standard education, worldly philosophy, Hollywood’s direction, the music industry’s playlist and more.
Somehow, as a believer in Jesus Christ, we have an uncomfortable relationship with this. It may be there, “like a splinter in your mind”. There is an inner conflict between something called “Flesh and Spirit”.
[That’s for a later blog.]
Here’s something we may not feel, but scripture says is true - we have peace with God. [Romans 5:1]
There are moments where I get those deep, beautiful, healthy glimpses of that peace and experience that in my own life.
However, there are many other moments like this:
Six years ago I sold my 1983 classic Chevy pickup to take my amazing wife to Hawaii for our 30th wedding anniversary - and Cass and Lesley Hallagin's wedding -and two hurricanes simultaneously descended on the islands after our arrival. On a day, after the storms passed with the sea still a little turbulent, at the encouragement of family and friends, I attempted snorkeling, not a familiar activity especially, after many surgeries.
I slid into the water off the coast of Maui and was immediately at odds with the swells of surging water - I was not at peace - could not allow myself to become one with the motion, and literally had to be rescued from that struggle. Though the others including Jenny were fine in those waters, I experienced panic.
Does that describe daily life? Later that day, I re-attempted snorkeling - this time in a little cove of a sandy beach in about 4 feet of calm water - there, I experienced peace and comfort and wholeness as well as the beauty of the undersea world... without fear.
Romans tells us that, at one point, this was our life. We were slaves to sin [an unbeliever] - dead to God - children of wrath - completely at the hands of an uncontrollable darkness… that's scary. But now that we have received His Son, we are alive to God, we are enslaved to righteousness. We’ve been changed and things have changed, even if we don’t think so or agree that they have.
This same book emphasizes to believers that there is a newness of life that we need to become aware of, become familiar with and walk in. Like snorkeling - that’s not a jump in and master moment. It’s a discovery process.
Our past experience has been that of a slave: No power, no choice, no authority, no freedom.
Yet, in the transformation, we became instead, a slave of righteousness - we’re offered a new experience. The HBO video I shared in “I will fear no evil” captures this at the eight minute and thirty second mark of the ten minute video. The narrator describes a tombstone from that era that reads: “Once a slave now a son.” Wow! Read Romans 8 - In it we are introduced to being called children of God.
Where’s this going?
Please bear with me - I have to lay the foundation before we can understand how it applies to us. In John 15:9-17, Jesus tells his disciples: “I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.”
How does all this apply to our intimate lives, or any part of our lives?
Well first, my challenges, and I believe yours as well, with love and marriage and sex and intimacy are deeply intertwined and affected.
My memories and thoughts are intermingled with emotions and hurts that seem untreatable: I get lost in the depths and the swells of life struggling to not be swept away by the undertow of it all.
But God had a plan. He knew I would be born into this life with only a body and soul capable of navigating life the best I could - my spirit was cut off from Him through the fall [See Romans 5:15] How does He carry out that plan?
He puts to death our past - he doesn’t do treatment, surgery, behavior modification therapy, etc. HE PUTS IT TO DEATH!
We just celebrated Easter. Through it, Christ took those issues to the cross - they are intertwined with my sins. They were all nailed with HIm to His cross, drenched in His blood to set me free [Romans 5:8-10] and then He invited me to do the same. [Galatians 2:20] My death and resurrection are not just necessary, they are ultimately the road to freedom!
I NEED to experience through death, burial, resurrection and ascension - being seated with Christ, that I now see my past under my feet - the old me is six feet under[ Romans 6:6] and the new me can walk in the newness of life. [Romans 6:4]
Get ready - it goes deeper here - answers are coming!
We were alive to sin - subject to sin - under sin’s authority. These are not sins - like a list - this is an entity - an unholy force or power. [Look at Romans 5:12 and Genesis 4:7]
Sin is personified - it has a life of its own. When you read Romans 5, 6,7, and 8, you are,in my opinion, in the most powerful part of the Bible. Paul - authoritatively - captures in these 4 chapters the power we have received in new life and the finality of death to old parts of our lives!
When we truly receive Jesus Christ - not just know of Him, or have sung about Him, or spent time studying about Him, or spent time praying to Him, or preaching about him - BUT INSTEAD RECEIVED HIM - “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--” [John 1:12] - Co-heirs [Romans 8:17] - enthroned with Him [Ephesians 2:6].
DO YOU BELIEVE that Jesus is worried about anything? Do YOU think He is fearful of anything or engrossed in past performance or failures? Me either! And WHO IS ALIVE IN YOU? CHRIST IN US THE HOPE OF GLORY [Colossians 3:3-4!
Now... take this truth back into our homes, back into our marriages and relationships and back into the bedroom if that’s where we have been beaten, dragged into the street, painted with the lies of the deceiver that have sent us messages - that our memories of feeling inadequate, used, useless, and incomplete - in other words hopeless - catching us in the undertow.
The deceiver might entertain you with these thoughts:” It’d be different with someone else.” Or, “You need to protect yourself, defend yourself, hurt your spouse before he/she hurts you” Or, “Just settle for living in the mud - numb yourself with drugs, alcohol, porn, etc to deal with the pain”, or “Just accept that I’d rather feel pain than nothing at all” or just get used to it - that’s just life.
Does that sound like abundant life? Or does that sound like what Jesus described would be Satan’s plan in John 10:10? Yet most people in the world today, can’t accept that Jesus, Father and Spirit have an answer for our situations. Is that true for us?
If so… We have a belief problem…
We are uncertain that God’s plan asserted, shouted, and victoriously proclaimed by Paul, who would not be deterred by the darkness, obstacles, and the enemy of sin, has any or enough truth to it. Even though he would impress it upon us, we struggle to hear what he has to say. We should be reading and rereading and rereading Romans 5, 6, 7 and 8 to let it live in us, transform our minds and our thoughtlife.
We have to let that which is dead be dead and dance with the newness of life that is a whole new language. If we don’t, we will be plagued with replaying the thoughts from our past - sin is crouching at the threshold of your mind - it’s desire is for you. It lusts for you with a voracious appetite for destruction - it wants to sleep with you - devour you … “but you must rule over it,” says God.
That is only possible through the truth in Romans 5-8.
What we need to rest in is immersing ourselves in new thought, singing a new song, just like David did in Psalms. Our prayers are prayers of deliverance, not prayers for forgiveness. That was handled and we say thank you Jesus - I agree that’s where I was - but now - your truth has delivered me.
NOTE: This may be a lot of scripture, but in our ministry we teach:
Truth is what God says, regardless of how I feel!
It's important to be able to find truth in the Word. We encourage you to look these chapters and verses up, so that you can rest in the power there and not in the illustrations.
Next, we will learn about taking thoughts captive.