(Post by: Michelle Hobbs)
Well, I am back at it, wrestling with the teachings of Watchman Nee. At the beginning of the year, I picked back up on my reading of The Normal Christian Life and began slowly working my way through the Scofield Bible Correspondence Course. (A gem of a six-volume course that was published in the 1950s and used by missionaries who were out in the mission field. We ran across a set in a used bookstore last year. I love finding treasures like that!) But I digress.
Anyway, prompted by a New Year’s Resolution, I was devoting some of my morning hours to Bible study and the Lord did one of my favorite things that He sometimes does. He coordinated the subject matter I was reading in The Normal Christian Life with the subject matter of the Scofield lesson I was completing that day. He does those kinds of things to let us know He is with each and every one of us; providing just what we need. But friends, when He does do that, you had better be paying attention. He is definitely trying to tell you something!
So, what was He trying to tell me, that I now want to share with you?
He was answering a question that I have wrestled with for several years. Why do Christians continue to accept sin as a normal part of our lives after we have been saved, forgiven, and transformed by the Lord?
I have to be honest; I cringe a little inside when I hear my brothers and sisters in Christ declare that they are sinners. You have all heard someone say, “We are all sinners saved by grace. We are still human and will always make mistakes. That’s just the way it is.” Just yesterday, I read a post on social media that said, “The one thing I am really good at is sinning… so praise the Lord I’m in Christ and when I do sin, I can go to Jesus and He forgives me.”
While I, regrettably, do still make mistakes and sin, I make considerably less mistakes and sin much less than I did before my salvation, and I pray that with each passing year, I look more and more like Christ, whose image I bear. I refuse to accept that I am stuck in my sin.
I believe that continuing to see ourselves as sinners after we are saved is wrong, and that wrong view of ourselves has a hugely negative impact on our growth as Christians. It keeps us right where the enemy wants us; not living in the fullness of Christ!
I pray that the Lord will grant us a fresh knowledge, a deep understanding, that what is true of the forgiveness of our sins is also true of our deliverance from sin.
In Romans 4:25 we see, “Jesus our Lord…was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.” Our “justification” is talking about our standing before God. God looks upon the precious blood of Christ and sees that Jesus has paid the price for the sins of us who believe in Jesus as our personal Savior. The blood deals with what we have done. We need the blood for forgiveness. The blood shed by Jesus, as our substitute, secures for us forgiveness, justification, and reconciliation with God.
Most Christians have no trouble believing that fact, but we tend to stop there. We, rather flippantly, continue on in our sin when Jesus tells us to “Be holy, as I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). We fail to understand the greatness of the Cross of Christ! While we need the blood for forgiveness, we also need the cross for deliverance!
Nee asks, “How could a holy God be satisfied to have unholy, sin-fettered children?” If He has provided a way to be forgiven of sin, surely He has provided a way for His children to be delivered from sin. The cross, precisely our death on the cross, is that provision.
You see, humans are born with a sin nature. Romans 5:19 says, “Through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners…” Because of the fall of Adam and Eve, all who have come after them have been born sinners. It is our constitution. We are not sinners because of our behavior. Our behavior, or sin, is merely evidence of the fact that we are born sinners.
Thankfully, God knew this about His creation and had a plan to deal with it (even before the beginning of time). That plan can be found in the conclusion of Romans 5:19, “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One shall the many be made righteous.”
Christians must understand this and grow in their faith past being only concerned with our behavior, on to accepting the crucifixion of our old, dead self. The blood cannot take away our sin nature. “There is only one way. Since we came in by birth, we must go out by death. Bondage to sin came by birth; deliverance from sin comes by death” (Nee, 1957).
“All we who are baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3). The blood deals with what we have done. The cross deals with what we are. We must have the cross to crucify our old selves. The cross provides our deliverance from what we used to be. “The cross is thus the mighty act of God which translates us from Adam to Christ” (Nee, 1957).
Christian, stop living in your old, dead self with Adam and start living in your new identity in Christ. “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Do you see? You are supposed to be a new creation, not a spruced-up version of your old self! This new, divine nature is Christ’s own.
Romans 7 is a record of the conflict between the old self and the new creation. In verses 14-24, we read Paul’s struggle with his sin nature. He says what all of us have felt. He states that he feels like a slave to sin. That he wants to do good but ends up doing wrong. Finally, in verse 24, Paul asks the question we all must ask. “Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?”
“Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord…And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Rom. 7:25-8:2). The battle now belongs to the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and will bring it about.
You must believe this and rely on this truth. Stop believing the lie that you are still a slave to sin. The old, dead self, that you should loathe, is on the cross.
“Our crucifixion can never be made effective by will or by effort, but only by accepting what the Lord Jesus did on the cross. Our eyes must be open to see the finished work of Calvary” (Nee, 1957).
SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?
= What are you going to do differently?
Nee, W. (1957). The Normal Christian Life. CLC Publications.