The Old and the New - Deliverance
God has centered everything in Christ. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the Holy and the True. Looking at Jesus as He walked John the Baptist could say, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
The above is vital since it directs our minds and hearts away from a world system here which is centered in all that is of man naturally – a world that “lies in the wicked one” – and re-directs our hearts and minds to what God is providing in Christ. It brings us out of ourselves and puts us squarely in Christ before God – “if any one be in Christ Jesus there is a new creation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Peter writes that God “has begotten us again to a living hope through [the] resurrection of Jesus Christ from among [the] dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance, reserved in [the] heavens for you”.
As Christians we undergo much here from which we could be delivered if we but believed more fully that which God is accomplishing for us in His power – which is to say, that He has translated us from a natural realm here in which there is an authority of darkness into “the kingdom of the Son of His love” (see Colossians 1:13). There are kingdoms and authorities and powers – even in the heavenlies (see Ephesians 6:12); but, there is no kingdom – carrying, as it does, the commensurate authority of the great King – to be compared to what God has centered in Christ and into which we have been brought through His Cross and the capacitating power of the Holy Spirit.
It is necessary to recognize that our overcoming simply has to be accomplished in the light of the victory of Christ in the Cross, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Lord could say, “These things have I spoken to you that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye have tribulation; but be of good courage: I have overcome the world” and, as a sequential truth John writes in his first epistle “greater is he that [is] in you than he that [is] in the world.”
As has been well-stated by others, Satan attacks the Christian in two primary ways: he seeks either to inflate the Christian, or, to deflate the Christian – or, a seesaw combination of both. The first is accomplished by attracting the believer by the elements of this world; the latter is accomplished by seeking to oppress and discourage the believer by the pressures of this life. These are both seen in the Lord’s parable of the sower in Matthew 13 – the thorns represent either the deceit of riches of this life and/or the anxious care of this life. Both have the result of choking the Word of God.
This brings up another, related reality. What value do we as Christians attach to the Word of God? There are many words and speeches in this world as to life, death and the nature of the universe; but, only those words founded on the Word of God can represent the absolute truth – “the truth as it is in Jesus.” The Lord is our unchanging Rock – “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, and to-day, and to the ages [to come].” In and of itself nothing is permanent in this world; but, when we come to Christ we find permanency – “For whatever promises of God [there are], in him is the yea, and in him the amen.”
The Word of God is “living and operative” and it is of great importance to see that “the truth” and “the Lord” are one and the same – the Lord shows us in John 14 that “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” The truth sets us free (see John 8). The Word of God brings us into an eternity in a heavenly Paradise planned out in perfection and executed by Him who is our Lord and Savior. Peter testified that the Lord “hast words of life eternal” and Paul writes as to “the sacred letters, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which [is] in Christ Jesus.” That eternity – with all its rich blessings – starts for the Christian while yet here on earth – an immense point to grasp. Paul writes in Ephesians 2 that God “has raised [us] up together, and has made [us] sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus” and writes to Timothy to “lay hold of eternal life.” These are present realities – a great source of comfort and joy to the heart and soul since it makes God’s purposes for us an enjoyable, present reality.
It is vital to understand that we need to be delivered from “this present evil world”, and, to do this, we need to understand that God in His power is first delivering us from ourselves. Paul writes in Romans 7 – “ O wretched man that I [am]! who shall deliver me out of this body of death?” He answers by saying, “I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
As has been well said, we cannot effectively go up the Christian path until we understand and experience “deliverance”. Many in Christendom labor to achieve proper righteousness, joy and peace in their paths who have never entered into deliverance. The word from many a pulpit by preacher or minister highlights the need for a right and faithful Christian testimony; but, perhaps does not illustrate how this is to be accomplished because the very preacher may not understand the nature of deliverance as it is set out in the Bible.
When the Israelites approached the Red Sea under God’s direction they suddenly found themselves hemmed in by the sea on the one side and by the approaching might of Pharoah’s army and chariots on the other side. This caused great panic because they rightly understood that from a natural perspective they were inescapably trapped. But, what was God’s word to them through Moses? “Fear not: stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah”. In this is seen the principle of deliverance. The Israelites couldn’t extricate themselves from the pressures of terror and death. You and I cannot extricate ourselves from the same pressures and terrors – and, certainly cannot deliver ourselves from the power of death. This is what Paul wrote as quoted above as to himself and for all of us in Romans 7, “O wretched man that I [am]! who shall deliver me out of this body of death?”
What is the answer and antidote to these issues? How are we to be delivered in such manner that we then are capacitated by God to be overcomers? The answer is seen in the foregoing sections – God Himself effectuates this for us! If we don’t understand this we will continually struggle to extricate and/or to improve ourselves, and we will feel guilty because, speaking generally, either we are inflated by and attracted to elements of this world – as to which the Bible calls us to be separate (see 2nd Corinthians 6) – or, as Satan points out our innate failures and weaknesses (see Zechariah 3 and The Revelation 12:10) we become discouraged and depressed.
Proper Christian state is NOT attainment – it is endowment! God sets us up in Christ in an entirely new sphere – the Lord says “Behold, I make all things new.” God saves us, God brings us into eternal life, God makes us over again in the image and likeness of Christ, God capacitates us through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit so that we properly and fully fit into and move in this infinite divine realm. God brings us in – we have no part in this matter other than being the beneficiaries of His infinite grace and love. Our part, subsequently, is to maintain that into which we’ve been brought. We do this as we “walk in the Spirit”. Our part is to make practical in our path the great truths attached to deliverance which have been made practical as to us. We simply have to make good IN us what God has effectuated as TO us. In accomplishment of this Hebrews 9 tells us that the Lord has “by the eternal Spirit offered himself spotless to God.” We have One who has gone here before and in complete victory has now taken His place “at the right hand of God.” We are to follow in His footsteps in the power of the same eternal Spirit – “for as many as are led by [the] Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8).
This, then, is deliverance. It brings us fully and freely into the presence of God in the image of Christ. The creation of Man in the Garden of Eden is wonderfully superceded by the creation of the new man in Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15). God has effectuated everything for us in His own illimitable power, and “none can take from His hand.” We have to, of course, maintain that into which we’ve been brought; but, the power for salvation including eternal life and resurrection from among the dead, as well as our ability to maintain here testimonially in power a proper Christian path in liberty and power is all supplied by God. Having “put on the new man, which according to God is created in truthful righteousness and holiness” we are able to be delivered from our “old man” and to be overcomers here.
The first step in all Christian progress is to see and understand what God is setting out for us in the Scriptures. The question to Jeremiah by God was, “What seest thou, Jeremiah?” and this same question exists for us today. If we don’t understand or – perhaps worse in its eventual result – misunderstand what God has in mind for us in our relationships both with Him, other Christians and men in general, how can we properly enter into and appreciate our Christian privileges and inheritance?
Satan’s efforts are to cloud and obfuscate the distinctive nature of Christianity. He has clearly succeeded – the immense confusion, division and breakdown in Christendom today is adequate and immediate testimony to this. What is the antidote? God has centered everything in Christ and we must do the same – if “thine eye be single, thy whole body will be light”.
There will be no sin or failure in Heaven and God desires that not only this be recognized but that it be our understanding and attitude currently as being His sons while yet here – Jude writes “But to him that is able to keep you without stumbling, and to set [you] with exultation blameless before his glory”, etc. What is the intent by the Holy Spirit in using this language? It is, clearly, to impress upon us that we have been brought into a sinless estate through the Holy Spirit – God considers that we can be here “without stumbling”. How is this possible? We read that “ Whoever has been begotten of God does not practise sin, because his seed abides in him, and he cannot sin, because he has been begotten of God” – 1st John 3:9. He cannot sin! Of course, we have to balance this with other scriptures such as “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (that’s the practical side in which we allow the “old man” to raise himself up and have an influence); however, the entire thrust of all scripture is that God is bringing man to Himself in a holy perfection which alone can suit His own blessed and Divine Nature. Peter writes “through which he has given to us the greatest and precious promises, that through these ye may become partakers of [the] divine nature” – this is one of the most precious of all Scriptures telling us, as it does, that we actually become partakers of the Divine Nature through the Holy Spirit. There is no attainment in this – God has freely provided this “unspeakable free gift.” May we each be fully impressed with the greatness of that which God has in mind for us in and through Christ – “according as it is written, Things which eye has not seen, and ear not heard, and which have not come into man's heart, which God has prepared for them that love him”. Amen.