“We preach Christ crucified”
1 Corinthians 1:23

Now That I Am Saved, What Should I Do Next?

“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart, and asked Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ Then Peter answered, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’“ Acts 2:38

My brothers and sisters, this message is for those of you who have just asked Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior. Now that you are saved, you may ask, “What should I do next?” Just as you were saved by faith, all progress in your Christian life is also by faith; that is, by believing and acting on the Word of God. You repented (turned away) from your sins when you were saved. The Bible says your next step of faith is to be water baptized in name of Jesus Christ. Jesus commanded that all new disciples should be water baptized (Matthew 28:19). When you are baptized in water, it signifies that by Christ’s death on the cross, your sins have been forgiven and washed away (Titus 3:5; 1 John 1:9). However, water baptism also signifies much more. The Greek word for baptize means to immerse. When you were born again, the Bible says you were spiritually baptized (immersed) into Christ’s death so that you might enter into His resurrection life (Romans 6:3-5). There are two stages of water baptism which express this truth of the gospel. First there is a burial and then there is a resurrection. Whenever anyone was baptized in the early church, they were immersed under water, which represented the burial of their old sin nature. The Bible says, “We have been buried with Him through baptism into death (Romans 6:4; see also Colossians 2:11-12).” The burial stage of water baptism demonstrates that when you were born again, your sin nature died and was removed from you. The Bible says, “For we know our old man was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin (our sin nature) might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin (Romans 6:6).” This is not just conceptual or symbolic: your sinful nature, which was at the very core of your inner being and the root of your self-identity and rebellion toward God, actually died when you received Jesus Christ as Lord into your heart.

In this way, water baptism reveals the heart of the New Covenant. God knew we needed forgiveness for our sins; He also knew we needed deliverance from our sin nature. Otherwise, we would remain captives to sin. Therefore, when Jesus Christ died, He bore not only our sins on the cross; He also bore our sin nature on the cross with Him. The Bible says, “God made Christ who had no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).” Since our bondage to sin came when we were born sinners; our deliverance from sin came when God spiritually included us in Christ’s death. “Because anyone who has died has been freed from sin (Romans 6:7).” In the next phase of water baptism, we are raised in new resurrection life out of the watery grave. This demonstrates that Jesus Christ now lives in us by His Spirit (Romans 6:4-5; 2 Corinthians 13:5). Therefore, water baptism is God’s way for new disciples to be taught that their old sinful nature has died and they are now a new spiritual creation in Christ. The Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new person; his old being has perished, a new life has begun (2 Corinthians 5:17).” Thus water baptism outwardly expresses the divine transformation that occurred within you when you were born again of the Spirit. This is the important spiritual lesson that God wants every new Christian to learn from water baptism. 

After you are water baptized, your next step of faith is to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. For Jesus not only commanded His disciples to be baptized in water, He also commanded them to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Just before His ascension, Jesus gathered His disciples together and “commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the gift My Father had promised, which you have heard Me speak about. For John baptized in water, but in a few days you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit … you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be My witnesses… (Acts 1:4-8).” When you were born again, you received the Holy Spirit into your heart; however, after you are saved, Jesus wants to baptize (spiritually immerse) you in the Holy Spirit in order to supernaturally empower you, which you will need to be His effective witness in this sinful world. You can receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit the same way you received Christ when you were saved – by faith. Jesus said, “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him (Luke 11:13)?” Our heavenly Father has promised to give you the gift of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and His Son is the One who will baptize you in the Spirit. When you ask Jesus to baptize you in the Holy Spirit, you can count on His Word that He will! When Jesus baptizes you in the Holy Spirit, He will also give you the supernatural ability to speak directly to God in the spirit through a new language (Mark 16:17; Acts 2:4; 10:44-48; 19:5-6). 

After you are baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit, you may wonder why you still continue to sin. The reason is this: although you no longer have an old sinful nature, you still have an old sinful way of thinking that needs to be transformed by reading, believing and acting on the Word of God (Romans 12:2). Although God does not expect you to be sinless, He does expect you to stop practicing chronic sin; otherwise you cannot fellowship with Him (1 John 1:6; 3:6). The key to overcoming sin is to continually remind yourself of the Biblical truth that you are dead to sin because you no longer have a sinful nature and are now a new spiritual person in Christ. As you continue to stand firm by faith in this truth of the cross, you will find that you sin less and less, and increasingly know Jesus Christ more and more.

Finally, try to find real believers to fellowship with, who can encourage you in your new found faith. And if you cannot find another Christian of true faith, it would be better for you to fellowship alone with the Lord than to get mixed up with unbelieving, fake Christians. Jesus Christ will always be with you and will reveal Himself to you.

Building the Temple of God

“In Him (Christ) the whole building is being fitted together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you also are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.”  Ephesians 2:21-22

Under the Old Covenant, the temple of God was a physical building in Jerusalem that was made of stones cut and carried from local quarries. Imagine if we could ask one of the laborers carrying a stone to the temple site what he was doing, and he replied, “Nothing at all important; I am just carrying stone every day.” But what if we asked another laborer the same question and they responded, “I am carrying stone every day to help build the greatest and most beautiful temple ever made for God to inhabit!” This illustrates the importance of having God’s heavenly vision in our daily lives. Indeed, the Bible says, “Without vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18).”

Now that we are under the New Covenant, the Bible says we are like living stones that make up God’s spiritual house and holy temple (1 Peter 2:5). Yet many of us do not outwardly appear to be involved in any glorious work for God. We go to work each day and do the same job over and over again. Or, we may be a homemaker and clean house, wash the dishes, do the laundry, and change diapers every day. After years of doing daily repetitive tasks, it is natural that the rhythm of our lives can sometimes feel routine, monotonous and of no real importance. This is why it is essential to remind ourselves of God’s heavenly purpose for our lives. Salvation is only the beginning and not the end of God’s plan. The Bible says, “God has saved us and called us to a holy life… it is God’s will that you should be holy… for God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life (2 Timothy 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:3 & 7).” Why is holiness important and how does it relate to building God’s temple? God’s desire is that we would know Him and abide in Him. And the Bible says the only way we can know Him and abide in Him is to practice holiness (Hebrews 12:14; 1 John 3:6). This is why Jesus said we must deny ourselves and carry our own cross daily for His sake (Mark 8:34). But how can we deny ourselves, carry our cross and live a holy life in this sin-filled world? There is only one way: we must believe and act on the Biblical truth that Christ has freed us from the power of sin by destroying and removing our sinful nature when we were born again, so that He could live in us (Romans 6:6-7; Colossians 1:27; 2:11-12). When we believe and act on this powerful truth of God’s grace, we are able (by the Spirit) to “put to death” our old sinful way of thinking and acting and put on Christ’s way of thinking and acting (Romans 8:13; Ephesians 4:23). This is the only way by God’s grace we can be a holy and faithful member of God’s building team.

Paul said, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). We do not want to lose sight of the grace that God has called us to in Christ Jesus. Otherwise, why would we suffer and deny ourselves the pleasures, riches and approval of this world? For example, what if we asked a Christian what he is doing and he halfheartedly replied, “Nothing at all important; I am just carrying my cross every day.” This kind of discouraged attitude will lead to spiritual defeat. But what if we asked another Christian the same question and they responded, “I am carrying my cross every day so that I can help build the greatest and most beautiful temple ever made for God to inhabit!” This is the truth: when we carry our cross daily, we are building God’s temple, which is His church. This is the truth that encourages and inspires us to persevere by faith in the daily struggles of life. 

Under the Old Covenant, when the temple was built in old Jerusalem, the master craftsmen had to fashion each stone into the right form and appearance to make sure they fit properly into God’s temple. In the same way, we must allow God (the Master Craftsman) to fashion us as living stones into Christ’s image, so that we properly fit into His holy temple, which is Christ’s body. The Bible says “we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, that is, Christ; from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by every supporting joint, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (Ephesians 4:15-16).”

It should be the heart’s desire of every Christian to build up God’s temple, His church. However, just as we can build up God’s temple by believing in what Jesus has accomplished for us on the cross (that we are made righteous and holy by God’s grace), the Bible says we can also tear down the temple of God if we practice unbelief and sin. Paul warns, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for the temple of God is holy and you are that temple (1 Corinthians 3: 16-17).” There is only one way we can build God’s temple: we must practice living righteously by faith in Christ and His completed work on the cross (Romans 1:17). Therefore, let us ask ourselves: “Are we practicing righteousness or practicing sin? Are we building up or tearing down God’s temple, His church?”

At the end of this age, all of God’s elect who carry their cross daily will be joined together like living and holy stones to form God’s heavenly temple. “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be among them (Revelation 21:2-3).” This is why we must stay heavenly-minded by believing and acting on the truth of the cross that we have died with Christ, so that He can sovereignly live in us, His body, His tabernacle.

“Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on heavenly things above, not on earthly things. For you have died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, is revealed; then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”  Colossians 3:1-4

Who Are My Brothers and Sisters?

“Both He (Jesus) who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”  Hebrews 2:11

The desire to belong to a family is a deep need in every person. When we are born again of the Spirit, this desire and expectation is intensified now that we belong to the family of God. Unfortunately, for many sincere Christians, their yearning to have fellowship with a loving and godly church family will not be met, and some will even have their hopes completely devastated. Why does this happen? It will help if we understand what the Bible says about Christian fellowship. The apostle John said, “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ… God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:3, 5-7).” John goes on to say, “No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has seen Him or knows Him… by this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God (1 John 3:6, 10).”

Some Christians think that you can have spiritual fellowship with any person who is saved and has God’s Spirit in them. But this is only true if that person is practicing righteousness that is based on faith. If that person is practicing unrepentant sin, then they are walking in darkness and rebellion to God’s Spirit, and it not possible to have spiritual fellowship with them (1 Corinthians 5:11). The Bible is clear that we can only have spiritual fellowship with other Christians who practice righteousness and do not practice sin. Of course, none of us can expect to find a perfect church, but we should expect to belong to an authentic church that is growing in the grace and truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

Since only those Christians who practice righteousness are genuine believers with whom we can experience true spiritual fellowship, we must ask ourselves, “How can we practice righteousness so that we can have fellowship with God and with His people who also practice righteousness?” Once again, the Bible is clear: you can only practice righteousness if you have been freed from sin’s power (Romans 6:18). And how can you be freed from sin’s power? The Bible says you were freed from sin’s power when you died to sin (Romans 6:7). But when did you die to sin? The Bible says you died to sin when you were born again and your sinful nature was destroyed and removed from you (Romans 6:6; Colossians 2:11.) Therefore, if you believe and act on this Biblical truth, you can practice the righteousness that is based on faith (Philippians 3:9). Consequently, the only way you can practice true righteousness is to believe and act on the Biblical truth that God removed your sinful nature when you were saved in order to free you from the power of sin. Just as there is only one door to enter into salvation, there is only one door to walk in righteousness: believing in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. There is no other way to practice righteousness that is based on faith. Anyone who tries to practice righteousness by any other way is unbelieving and disobedient to the Word of God. Instead of submitting themselves to God’s righteousness, they are practicing a false righteousness and a counterfeit Christianity. They may outwardly appear righteous to men, but they are lawless and full of hypocrisy on the inside. They have a different faith (really a false faith), a different gospel, a different spirit, and a different Jesus. Is it any wonder that when true Christians try to fellowship with these unbelieving “Christians,” they are attacked by Satan? Of such, the Bible warns: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers, for what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness or what fellowship can light have with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with the devil? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).” This is why true Christians will encounter rejection, hostility and persecution if they try to fellowship with false Christians who do not practice true righteousness based on faith in the cross of Christ.

Jesus said that in the Day of Judgment there would be many people who claim to be Christians and say that Jesus is their Lord, but God will not allow them into His family because they do not practice Biblical righteousness that is based on faith (Matthew 7:21-23). The Bible says that in these last days many people will practice an outward form of Christianity, but their lives will deny the power of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. The Bible warns us to not to have any fellowship with such people (2 Timothy 3:5). When a church is filled with these false Christians, it is false church. It does not matter whether you belong to a house church or a mega church, if it is filled with false Christians, get out! Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8).” This would indicate, that when Jesus returns, there will be very few Christians who are practicing God’s righteousness based on faith in the truth of the cross of Christ.

In closing, who are My brothers and sisters? Jesus said, “Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister (Matthew 12:48).” Although God has called many to salvation, it is only those few who do the will of God and practice true righteousness based on faith who will be chosen worthy to belong to His heavenly family (Matthew 22:14). In these last days, it is far better to go outside the camp of counterfeit Christianity and suffer reproach with Christ than to belong to a false church and try to have fellowship with false Christians (Hebrews 13:5). And if our heart’s desire for fellowship with the family of God is not met until the age to come, we can be more than content today with our fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we would be called children of God! And that is who we are!”  1 John 3:1

Birthright – Our Spiritual Identity in Christ

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new person; his old being is gone, a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

The word birthright signifies the rights and responsibilities inherited due to one’s birth. This especially applies if one is born into royalty. In the same way, since we have been spiritually born of God into His royal family, we have been endowed with certain rights and responsibilities. However, before we discuss these, we let us first examine the complete transformation of our spiritual identity that occurred with our new birth in Christ. The Bible says that when we were physically born, we were born with a sinful nature. Our sinful nature was like a “sin factory” within us, continually producing sinful attitudes and actions. The Bible says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7).” In other words, a man speaks and acts based on who he is – in his inner being. This is why Jesus said that a man’s sinful thoughts and deeds originated from out of his sinful heart (Matthew 15:18-19). This was our spiritual identity before we were saved. We were sinners by nature and no matter how hard we tried, we could not escape our identity problem.

God’s divine solution to our identity crisis was to get rid of the “sinner” – the “sin factory” within us. Since we were born into sin, the only way we could be freed from sin was through death. God’s remedy was to spiritually include us in His Son’s death in order to remove our sinful nature, so that the Spirit of His resurrected Son could live in us. This was not merely conceptual or symbolic. When we were saved, God actually removed our sinful nature, which was at the very core of our inner being and the root of our self-identity and rebellion toward God (Romans 6:6; Colossians 2:11). As a result of our new birthright in Christ, we have been set free from sin’s dominion and destruction. The Bible says, “He who has died has been freed from sin… count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:7, 11).” This is the miracle of our new birth, made possible by the divine operation of the cross of Christ.

The universal search for self-identity is the central issue that motivates all unbelievers and accounts for their self-centered behavior (even when it is sometimes cloaked in outer morality). Yet, tragically, even many Christians continue to have an identity crisis after they are saved. They mistakenly believe that they are still a “wretched” sinner with a sinful nature. As a result, they live lives of secret guilt and desperation, always afraid that their “dark side,” which continually ensnares them in sin, will be publically exposed. If you are a born again Christian, this is not your divine birthright! This life of defeat and shame is not the life of victory over sin that Jesus Christ died on the cross to give you! Here is the Biblical truth: when you were born again, God made you a new person in Christ. However, before God could give you a new spiritual identity with Christ’s divine nature, He had to first deal with your old sinful identity (that you inherited from Adam). Therefore, God not only dealt with its fruit (your sinful actions) by forgiving your sins; He also got rid of its root (by removing your sinful nature). Your old sinful nature is now dead and gone, and Christ now lives in you by His Spirit (Colossians 1:27). This is the truth that sets you free from slavery to sin (John 8:32-36). You are no longer a sinful person; you are now a new person in Christ who loves God and can obey God, if you believe and act on this truth.

Jesus said that, in order to find your new spiritual identity in Him, you must lose your old soulish identity for His sake (Matthew 16:24-25). How do you do this? You took your first step when you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and surrendered control of your life over to Him. After you are saved, you can now “put to death” each day your old soulish way of thinking and acting and put on Christ’s way of thinking and acting (Romans 8:12-14; Ephesians 4:22-24). If you believe and act on the Biblical truth that you longer have a sinful nature and you are now a new spiritual person in Christ, you will see new Christ-like attitudes and actions spring out from your new identity – who you are in Christ! Your personal testimony of faith will then become like the apostle Paul’s: “I (my old self) have been crucified with Christ, and I (my sinful nature) no longer live, but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God (Galatians 2:20).” When your identity is in Christ, this is real freedom, this is real security!

Now that we have been born of God, we have been endowed by God with certain unalienable (unchangeable) rights that no one (not even the devil) can take away from us (unless we let them). We have the right to be the children of God, and to know God as our heavenly Father (John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 6:18). We have the right to serve God without being afraid of sin’s ensnarement (Luke 1:74; Romans 8:15). If we walk in God’s truth, we have the right to live free from the guilt and condemnation of sin (Romans 8:1). And we have the right to live free from the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15). We also have certain God-given responsibilities. We have the responsibility to love one another as God loves us (John 13:35). We have the responsibility to stop practicing sin and be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:10; 1 John 3:6). We also have the responsibility to share the gospel with the world around us (Matthew 28:19-20). 

If we believe the truth, we will realize we are not hopeless sinners! We are saints – holy ones – who are dead to sin and alive to God because we no longer have a sinful nature, and Christ’s Spirit now lives in us. If we believe and act on this truth of the cross every day, we will progressively lose our old sinful way of thinking and acting, and we will increasingly be transformed into Christ’s likeness and His way of thinking and acting. This is our divine birthright in Jesus Christ! This is the easy yoke that Jesus promised us (Matthew 11:28-30).

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

Love – The Crowning Fruit of Discipleship

A new command I give you, that you love one another, even as I loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:34-35

  The Greek word used for love in this verse is agape.  This is the love that comes from God and is the heart of His divine nature.  Jesus said agape love is the primary evidence that we are His disciples.  Note that Jesus did not say ministry or spiritual gifts were the evidence.  John wrote of agape love, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4:7-8).”  Paul described agape love this way: “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).”

   Whereas God’s love is pure and unselfish, man’s love is soulish and based on mutually beneficial interests.  For example, people who belong to the same club have natural affection for one another.  We might call this “club love” or even “neighborly love.”  This can also be true when people belong to the same church.  However, affection that is based on belonging to the same neighborhood, club or church is not the same as true Christian love, which is based solely on our belonging to Christ.  Furthermore, it is one thing to love your neighbor, but what if your neighbor is your enemy?  Jesus taught, “You have heard it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them (Matthew 5:43-44; Luke 6:32).” The goal of the gospel is to produce a people who have God’s agape love.  Paul said, “The goal of our instruction is agape love that comes from a pure heart (1 Timothy 1:5).”  Does this kind of love sound difficult?  It is not just difficult, it is naturally impossible.  Yet this is the agapelove of God that Jesus told His disciples they must have. 

   Some people are naturally more patient and kind than others, but this does not mean they have God’s agape love.  Since agape love is the essence of God Himself, it can only be expressed as a fruit of His Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), and not as a natural attribute produced by our human efforts (Galatians 3:3).  We cannot express God’s love by trying harder to be more patient and kind.  How then can we have God’s love?  There is only one way.  We must abide in Christ (John 15:4-5).  How do we abide in Christ?  We must believe and act on what Christ accomplished for us on the cross.  When we were born again, God spiritually included us in Christ’s death in order to remove our sinful nature and replace it with Christ’s holy nature (Romans 6:3-11).  This is the full provision of the cross of Christ. However, we must remember that although our sinful nature was removed when our spirit was made alive in Christ, our soul (our natural personality with its attitudes, affections and abilities) was not automatically converted into Christ’s likeness.  But now that we do not have a sinful nature and Christ’s Spirit indwells us, our soul can be transformed so we can love others with a pure heart as Christ loves us.

   Peter wrote of this: “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently from a pure heart (1 Peter 1:22).”  This is the divine truth: carrying your own cross and losing your unconverted soul-life is the way that God has ordained to purify your soul so you can express His agape love.  Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his soul-life will lose it; but whoever loses his soullife for My sake will find it (Matthew 16:24-25).”  If you know (and believe and act on) the Biblical truth that God destroyed and removed your sinful nature when you were saved, then you are able to carry your own cross and lose your unconverted soul-life daily for Jesus Christ.

   God does not want to destroy your soul; He wants to restore it to His original, eternal purpose.  Therefore, when you lose your unconverted soul-life for Christ, you will find your soul restored into Christ’s likeness. What does it mean to carry your own cross and lose (or lay down) your soul-life for Christ’s sake?  It means that each day you “put to death” your old soulish way of thinking and acting and put on Christ’s way of thinking and acting.  Paul said, “If you are living according to the flesh (your unconverted soul-life), you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live… put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your soulish nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed… now those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death on the cross the flesh (their unconverted soul-life) with its passions and desires (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5; Galatians 5:24).”

   Jesus said the foremost law is to love God and love others (Matthew 22:36-40).  And Paul taught, “Do everything in love… love is the fulfillment of the law… walk in love just as Christ loved us(1 Corinthians 16:14; Romans 13:10; Ephesians 5:2).”  The Bible says the only faith that counts for anything is faith expressed through love; otherwise it is worth nothing (Galatians 5:6; 1 Corinthians 13:2).  Just as true faith can only be expressed through love, true holiness can only be expressed through love.  If we do not love others, our holiness is worthless (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13).  The extent to which we love Christ’s body shows how much we love Christ Himself (Matthew 25:34-46).  “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his soullife for us; and we ought to lay down our soullives for the brethren (1 John 3:16).”  Just as Jesus was motivated by love to lay down His soul-life for us; if our love is godly and true, we will lay down our soul-life for His body.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his soul-life for his friends.”   John 15:13

The Beauty of Holiness

“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”  Psalm 96:9

   Salvation is only the beginning and not the end of God’s purpose for His elect.  The Bible says God chose us and reconciled us to Himself in Christ so that we would live a holy life (Ephesians 1:4; 5:25-27).  It has been said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  In God’s eyes, holiness is beauty of the highest order and so precious that He commands us to pursue it with the greatest diligence.  And yet the last holiness movement in the church occurred well over a century ago.  Teaching on holiness is rarely heard in the church today. Many professing Christians are averse to pursuing holiness and even shrink from using the word holy.  Tragically, this reflects very badly on the lawless state of today’s church.

   Why is holiness so important to God?  Above all, our God is holy.  Holy is the primary word in the Scriptures that best describes the Person of God.  The Bible uses “holy” and its related words holiness and sanctification more than one thousand times to describe God and the things of God.  The Bible says, “There is no one holy like the Lord (1 Samuel 2:2).”  The Hebrew and Greek words for “holy” in the Old and New Testaments mean separate and pure.  Our triune God is holy – completely pure and void of evil.  “God is Light and in Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).  God the Father is holy, God the Son is holy, and God the Spirit is holy.  In heaven, all the celestial creatures worship God day and night calling out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.  The whole earth is full of His glory (Isaiah 6:3).”  God’s manifest glory is the radiance of His holiness. As Moses declared, “Who is like You, O Lord, among the celestial beings?  Who is like You, glorious in holiness? (Exodus 15:11).”

   Why is it so important that we pursue holiness after we are saved?  Holiness is not an end in itself; rather it is the only way we can know God. The Bible says that unless we live holy lives, we cannot know God or abide in God (1 John 3:6). Holiness and fellowship with God go hand-in-hand.  You cannot have one without the other     (1 John 1:6-7).  Therefore the Bible says, “Pursue holiness; for without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).”  Since God is holy, all true holiness originates from Him.  And because God is holy, no one can know God or come into union with God unless God Himself has made them holy.  In the Old Covenant, God sanctified (made holy) all His priests so that they could approach Him.  Similarly, in the New Covenant, God makes all those who receive His Son as Lord a holy priesthood so they can draw near to Him and know Him (Hebrews 8:10-12; 1 Peter 2:5).  This is why Jesus Christ died on the cross – to make us holy so we could join God’s family.  “Both He (Jesus) who makes men holy and those who are made holy are all from the same Father, so He (Jesus) is not ashamed to call them brothers (Hebrews 2:11).”  Since we were born with a sinful nature, how does Jesus make us holy?  Before we were saved, our sinful nature was like a “sin factory” within us that continuously produced sinful attitudes and actions.  Therefore, to make us a new creation in Christ, God had to first deal with the old creation (our sinful Adam nature).  By Christ’s death on the cross, God not only dealt with the fruit of the old creation (our sinful actions) by forgiving our sins, He also destroyed its root (our sinful nature/the sin factory).  “For we know that our old man of sin was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin (our sinful nature) would be destroyed, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.  For he who has died has been freed from sin (Romans 6:6-7).”  Thus, by the divine operation of the cross, God removed our sinful nature and replaced it with Christ’s holy nature when we were born again of the Holy Spirit (Colossians 1:27; 2:11-12).

   Now that God has created us in holiness (Ephesians 4:24), He also calls us to live a holy life.  For a Christian, there are no exceptions to God’s call.  Paul wrote, “It is God’s will that you should be holy… for God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.   Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you His Holy Spirit(1 Thessalonians 4:3-8).”  And Peter said, “Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy for I am holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).’” Therefore our Holy God wants us to be holy in spirit, soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

   Many Christians mistakenly think that because they were cleansed from their sins by Christ’s atoning sacrifice, they can have fellowship with God even if they do not walk in holiness.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The Bible says that anyone who continues to practice sin cannot know God or abide in God (1 John 3:6).  Many other Christians pursue holiness by trying to improve their behavior through their self-efforts (Galatians 3:3). This is not true Christianity.  Trying to be holy by your own self–will and self-discipline undermines true Biblical faith and is a religious form of lawlessness.  When we were saved, God made us holy (cleansed us from sin) because we believed and acted on the truth that Christ died for us to forgive our sins (Romans 5:8).  God now enables us to walk in holiness if we believe and act on the truth that we died with Christ to remove our sinful nature (Romans 6:8).  God removed our sinful nature when we were saved so we could have spiritual union and intimate fellowship with Him through His Holy Spirit who lives in us (Galatians 2:20).

   Our pursuit of holiness is precious in the sight of God.  For anyone who seeks to know God, all the things of earth pale in comparison to seeing the beauty of His holiness.  If you have the heart of the bride of Christ, you will find the beauty of His holiness irresistible, and His fellowship worth far more than anything you give up so that you can know Him and abide in Him.

As King David testified, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.”  Psalm 27:4

The Case of the Unbelieving Believer

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all His angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne.   All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people from one another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.  Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’… Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels… into eternal punishment.’” Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46

   In this parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus Christ presented a sobering picture of the Day of God’s Judgment when Christ will separate the believers from the unbelievers. All those who believe in Him will receive eternal life, but those who did not believe in Him will be cast into the eternal fire (John 3:36).  The apostle Paul said, “If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).”  The Greek word for perish is appollymi, which means to die.  In this context, it means unbelievers are doomed to spiritual death and eternal separation from God.   It does not mean that unbelievers will be annihilated (cease to exist) after they die.  The Bible clearly states that unbelievers will suffer eternal punishment and torment after they are judged by God (Matthew 25:46, Revelation 14:10-11; 21:8).

   This is not the only one of Jesus’ parables that addresses the different destinies of believers and unbelievers – those who believe to the resurrection of life and those who do not believe to the resurrection of judgment.  For example, in the parable of the tares and the wheat, Jesus compares the wheat to the sons of the kingdom, and the tares to the sons of the devil.  Then Jesus said, “Let them both grow up together until the harvest… just as the tares are gathered up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.  The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom those who practice sin, and those who cause others to sin.  They will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:30, 40-42).” 

   But what about the case of the unbelieving believer?  An unbelieving believer is someone who initially received the gospel of Jesus Christ, but then does not persevere to live by faith in Christ.  Jesus described this kind of person in His parable of the sower and the seed as the second and third type of soil (Matthew 13:21-22).  When their initial belief in the gospel is tested by either the trials of adversity or the temptations of prosperity, they fall away from the faith and do not bear spiritual fruit.  How then can you know if someone is a believing Christian or an unbelieving Christian?  Jesus said, “You shall know them by their fruit (Matthew 7:20).” The Bible says that a believing Christian practices righteousness and bears the spiritual fruit of sanctification, whereas an unbelieving Christian practices sin and does not bear any spiritual fruit (Luke 8:15; 1 John 3:7-10).

   Remember the only way we can practice true righteousness is to believe and act on the truth of the cross.  And this is the truth of the cross: when we were born again, God removed our sinful nature so that His risen Son could live in us (Romans 6:3-11; Colossians 1:27).  If you are a true believer in Christ, you are capable of overcoming sin and walking in sanctification by exercising faith in this truth of the cross.  However, since an unbelieving Christian does not believe this Biblical truth, they cannot overcome sin.  Because they are convinced that they still have an evil sinful nature, they remain captive to sin.  For the only way you can conquer sin is to believe that Christ conquered sin for you when He removed your sinful nature (Colossians 2:11).  Consequently, an unbelieving Christian may go to church and appear outwardly moral, but inwardly they are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matthew 23:28; 2 Timothy 3:5).  These are the goats, though they bleat like sheep!
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   What then is the destiny of an unbelieving Christian?  Just as the Bible spells out the fate of an unbeliever, the Bible also spells out the fate of an unbelieving Christian.  The Scripture says, “Take care, brethren, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God (Hebrews 3:12).  And Paul taught that any Christian who continues in unbelief will be cut off from Christ and not spared (Romans 11:17-24).  Jesus Himself warned that no professing Christian who practices sin would enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21-23).  The author of Hebrews said that anyone who goes on sinning willfully after receiving the gospel can expect God’s terrifying judgment (Hebrews 10:26-27).  And Jude warned, “I want to remind you that after the Lord saved His people out of Egypt, He subsequently destroyed those who did not believe (Jude 5).”

   To sum up, what is the difference between a believing Christian and an unbelieving Christian? A believing Christian abides in God and walks in sanctification by faith in the truth of the cross (that he is dead to sin because he no longer has a sinful nature).  An unbelieving Christian does not abide in God or know God because he does not overcome sin by faith (Hebrews 12:14; 1 John 3:6). We can now close the case of the unbelieving believer. The evidence of the Scriptures is conclusive: the unbelieving Christian will be missing from the Book of Life when God records the names of those chosen for eternal life.  Although they initially responded to God’s call, they proved themselves unworthy of the kingdom of heaven by not persevering by faith in the cross of Christ to overcome sin.  As Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14).”

“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea and gathered all kinds of fish.  When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore.  Then they sat down and gathered the good fish into baskets, but they threw away the bad fish.  This is how it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Matthew 13:47-50 

The Doctrine of the Forked Tongue

Now the Spirit clearly says that in the latter days some will fall away from the faith and follow deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.  Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a branding iron.”   1 Timothy 4:1-2

   The Native American Indians have an expression called “speaks with forked tongue” to describe someone who says one thing but means another thing. The Bible’s term for “forked tongue” is “double tongued,” which means hypocritical and deceitful (1 Timothy 3:8).  Teaching with a “forked tongue” fittingly describes a counterfeit doctrine commonly taught in churches today concerning our co-crucifixion with Christ.  Since this doctrine is central to the divine purpose and provision of Christ’s death on the cross, this is not just a      minor theological issue of no great consequence.  So before we go any further, let us look at what the Bible teaches about our co-crucifixion with Christ.       

   The Bible says that every person is born with a sinful nature, which the Bible also refers to as the “old man.”  This sinful nature is like a “sin factory” inside unregenerate man that continuously produces sinful attitudes and actions that are hostile to God.  Since we were born into sin and were, therefore, sinners by nature, God’s plan of redemption was to spiritually include us in His Son’s death so that we could be freed from sin.  Therefore, when we were born again, God spiritually immersed us into Christ’s death (Romans 6:3).  Consequently, the Bible says that “our body of sin – our sinful nature” was destroyed and done away with when we were saved (Romans 6:6).  In fact, the Greek word katargeo, which means destroyed and done away with, can also be translated as removed.   In other words, when we were saved, God removed our sinful, evil nature so that Christ’s Holy Spirit could dwell in us (Colossians 1:27; 2:11).  This is the miraculous transformation that occurred within us when we were born again of God’s Spirit (John 3:3-7).

   Although many pastors today say they teach that our sinful nature died when we were co-crucified with Christ, they do not really believe it or mean it.  How do we know this?  Because they also teach a contradictory doctrine that Christians still have the “old man of sin” or sinful, evil nature indwelling them after they have been saved.  We call this teaching the “doctrine of the forked tongue” since they say one thing (our old man of sin/our sinful nature died) when they really mean another thing (our old man of sin/our sinful nature still lives in us).  This false doctrine promotes the devilish idea that our sinful nature is not really dead and extinct but instead resides in us like a dormant volcano that can spontaneously erupt into life and cause destruction and havoc in our life at any time.     This teaching is what the Bible calls a “doctrine of demons” since it undermines the truth of Christ’s completed work on the cross and keeps God’s people ignorant, confused, fearful and enslaved  to sin so they cannot walk in the fullness of Christ’s life and power.  As God declared, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).”

   Deceiving God’s people by speaking with a forked tongue is not new.  Satan, who is the father of lies (John 8:44), used the serpent (who had a forked tongue) to deceive Eve into believing a lie, which cost her and Adam their faith and fellowship with God (Genesis 3:1-13).  In the same way, as a result of this present-day doctrine of the forked tongue, many Christians believe a demonic lie that they have two natures within them, a new Christ-like nature and an old satanic-like nature, and these two fight against each other daily like a white dog and a black dog.  They think that their Christian life reflects which one of these two natures (“or dogs”) they feed the most.  This lie puts the burden for living the Christian life on their own self-effort instead of their faith in Christ and His completed work on the cross.  This lie is one of the greatest deceptions the devil has foisted on the church.    Many Christians have become hopelessly discouraged and overcome by sin because they swallowed this lie; while others are deceived by self-righteousness that they can overcome the old sinful nature.  This false teaching that we still have a sin nature inhabiting us also provides a religious excuse for those who want to keep on sinning.

   God knew that man’s sinful nature was his Achilles heel, which Satan could use to continually snare him into sin.  If born again believers still had a sinful nature, the devil would always have a spiritual foothold of sin within us to defeat us.  This would have been an incomplete and pitiful salvation that would have left us powerless to overcome the sin of this world.  This is why God  had to use the crucifixion of His only Son to destroy and remove our sinful nature so that we would be born again with His divine nature and be able to fully serve Him without a divided heart.

   Anyone who teaches that Christians have two conflicting inner natures of good and evil, or that God never actually removed our sinful nature through Christ’s death, is impeding the church from entering into Christ’s fullness and God’s eternal purpose. Although some teach this falsehood out of spiritual ignorance, others teach it because they themselves are willfully practicing sin.  In their case, Jesus’ warning is appropriate, “Woe to you… for you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering (Luke 11:52).”

   Now that we are a new creation in Christ, we no longer have the malignant presence and power of sin indwelling us; instead, we have the holy presence and power of Christ indwelling us (Galatians 2:20).  If we teach anything less than the complete destruction and removal of our old sinful nature by the power of Christ’s crucifixion, we are guilty of rendering powerless the true gospel of Christ and treating as unclean the holy blood of Christ (Hebrews 10:26-31).  All who subvert the truth of our co-crucifixion with Christ by teaching with a forked tongue will be judged by God.

“Some people are throwing you into confusion and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”  Galatians 1:7-8 

From Slaves of Sin to Slaves of Righteousness

“Thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”  Romans 6:17-18

   In this verse, Paul thanked God that the believers who wholeheartedly obeyed his form of teaching (or doctrine) were transformed from slaves of sin into slaves of righteousness.  This result is so remarkable that we must ask, “What was Paul’s teaching that miraculously changed the lives of those who believed and acted on it?”  According to the Bible, Paul taught the purpose and power of Christ’s crucifixion (1 Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 3:1).  This teaching, which Paul called the gospel of “Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23),” is the foundational doctrine that Paul, as an apostle and master builder, laid brick by brick (precept by precept) so Christ’s church might be established and built up by this truth (1 Corinthians 3:10-11).

   Let us take a closer look at this truth of the cross.  Before we were saved, we were slaves of sin.   Our sinful nature was like a “sin factory” within us that continuously produced sinful attitudes and actions.  How did God miraculously free us from this “wretched man” who was enslaved to sin?      In order to redeem us from sin, God had to free us not only from the penalty of sin, He had to free us from the power of sin.  Therefore, to make us a new creation in Christ, God had to first deal with the old creation (our sinful Adam nature).  By Christ’s death on the cross, God not only dealt with the fruit of the old creation (our sinful actions), He also destroyed its root (our sinful nature/the sin factory).  “For we know that our old man of sin was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin (our sinful nature) would be destroyed, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.  For he who has died has been freed from sin (Romans 6:6-7).”  By the divine operation of the cross, God not only crucified our sinful nature with Christ; He removed it and replaced it with Christ’s nature when we received His risen Son as Lord into our hearts (Colossians 1:27; 2:11-12).  This is the doctrine of the cross that Paul laid down as the only true foundation for the church. This fundamental Christian doctrine is summarized as: Christ died for us and included us in His death so that He might live in us.  This is the truth that Paul practiced and preached: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God (Galatians 2:20).”

   Mere mental assent to this doctrine (of our co-crucifixion with Christ) is not enough for us to experience the reality and power of Christ living in us.  We must wholeheartedly obey (believe and act on) this foundational truth in order to experience freedom from the power of sin.  Of course, this is only possible if God has given us divine revelation to know this doctrinal truth in our heart (and not just our mind).  For example, just as we needed God’s divine revelation to know that Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) so that we might believe and act on this truth with a conviction that resulted in our salvation, we also need God’s divine revelation to know that we died with Christ (Romans 6:8) so that we might believe and act on this truth with an inward conviction that results in our sanctification.  God knew that there was no way we could possibly overcome sin if we still had a sinful nature after we were saved.  This is why He removed our sinful nature through Christ’s death on the cross and exchanged it with His Son’s nature.  However, if we have never heard this truth or if we do not believe and act on this truth, then God cannot set us free from the power of sin so that we can be slaves of righteousness (John 8:32-36). The Bible says, “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith (Hebrews 4:2).”

   Becoming a slave of righteousness does not mean that we are perfectly sinless (see 1 John 1:8).  However, it does mean that we practice righteousness instead of practicing sin.  Jesus said that whoever practices sin is still a slave of sin (John 8:34).  And John taught, “No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning.  No one who practices sin has seen Him or known Him.  Dear children, the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil… by this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God (1 John 3:6-10).”  What does it mean to practice righteousness?  It means we develop a habit of living by faith in the truth of the cross.  Jesus said, “My brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice (Luke 8:21).”  Although we no longer have a sinful nature after we are born of the Spirit, our mind still needs to be renewed and converted by the truth of God’s word.  It all starts with our believing what Christ has accomplished for us on the cross.  Our sinful nature, which was central to who we were and at the core of our rebellion toward God, was removed when we received Christ.  If we believe and act on this truth, we will be able to walk in ever-increasing freedom from entangling sins.  Our belief in this divine truth empowers us to carry our own cross and lose our unconverted soul-life for Christ’s sake (Mark 9:34-35).  Each day, we can by faith “put to death” our old soulish way of thinking and acting and put on Christ’s way of thinking and acting (Ephesians 4:22-24).   This daily practice of renewing our mind and losing our soul-life for Christ’s sake results in our sanctification and transformation. Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is (Romans 12:2).”

   In the natural, we practice something new until we learn it by heart.  In the same way, if we practice righteousness (our new way of life) by believing and acting on this truth that we no longer have a sinful nature, the reality of the cross of Christ will be indelibly imprinted in our hearts.  We will then wholeheartedly serve God as slaves of righteousness and the outcome is eternal life.

“But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit resulting in sanctification, and the outcome is eternal life.”   Romans 6:22

The Veil is Gone!

“When Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice,  He gave up His spirit.  At that moment, the veil of  the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Matthew 27:50-51

   Before Christ’s death on the cross, the way into the “holy of holies” in the temple of God was blocked by a thick veil or curtain.  What was the purpose of this veil and what is its symbolic connection with Christ’s death?   To begin, we need to go back to the original design of the tabernacle of God in the wilderness (see Exodus Chapters 25-27).  God commanded Moses to build the tabernacle “according to the pattern” that He had shown him (Exodus 25:9; Hebrews 8:5).  When the temple in Jerusalem was later constructed, it followed this similar design.  By God’s command, a thick veil separated and closed off the inner room – “the holy of holies” – from the rest of the temple (Exodus 26:31-33). Within the holy of holies resided the Ark of the Covenant where God’s presence dwelt (Exodus 25:22; 1 Kings 8:9-13).  Inside the Ark of the Covenant was the Law of God (the Ten Commandments inscribed on two stone tablets).  Only the high priest could enter inside the veil and then only once a year, on the Day of Atonement.  On that day, the high priest would go into the inner room (the holy of holies) to sprinkle the blood of a unblemished, sacrificial animal on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant to atone for the sins of the people (Leviticus 16:1-34).

   Why did God give detailed instructions to Moses concerning the construction of the tabernacle?  God’s eternal purpose and desire has always been to dwell among His people and commune with them.  The tabernacle’s design was meant to show how a sinful people could approach a holy God.  It also foreshadowed how Christ would open the way for us to truly know God (Hebrews 8:1-13).   The Bible says, “These things are a shadow of the things to come, but the reality is found in Christ (Colossians 2:17).”  With this in mind, what did the veil signify?  The veil signified that the way to God was closed off to people because they were sinners (Hebrews 9:8-10).  Therefore, the veil was a barrier that blocked sinful man from seeing God and having fellowship with Him.  Only the high priest was allowed to enter through the veil and only by offering the blood of an unblemished animal, which was a type of the sinless Lamb of God to come – Jesus Christ.  As Peter wrote, “You were redeemed… with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect (1 Peter 1:18-19).”

   When Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the temple was torn open from top to bottom.  The Bible says this event signified the start of the new covenant and the opening of a new and living way to know God (Hebrews 9:15; 10:20).  Why is this?  The torn veil represented Christ’s body that was put to death on the cross to bring us to God.  The Bible says, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting men’s sins against them (2 Corinthians 5:19).”  But if forgiveness of sins was the only benefit of Christ’s death on the cross, our reconciliation to God would not be made complete.  For not only did our sins separate us from God, our sinful nature also separated us from entering into spiritual union with God.  How could we dwell in God’s presence and how could He possibly dwell in us if we still had a sinful nature?  Only the removal of our sinful nature could enable God’s Holy Spirit to permanently dwell in us.  

   Therefore, not only did God forgive our sins through Christ’s crucifixion, God used His Son’s death to remove our sinful nature.  For when Christ died on the cross, He not only took our sins upon Himself, He also took our sinful nature upon Himself so that we would be born again with His righteous nature.  The Bible says, “He become sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).” Consequently, when Christ died, our sinful nature died with Him.  “For we know that our old man was crucified with Him in order that our body of sin (our sinful nature) might be destroyed, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.  For he who has died has been freed from sin! (Romans 6:6-7).” Thus God made us holy through His Son’s death: holy not just because our sins are forgiven, but holy because we no longer have a sinful nature.  We are now a new creation in Christ – “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24; see also 2 Corinthians 5:17).”

   Jesus said, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3).” Why is this?  Because until you are born again, your sinful nature is like a veil or curtain upon your heart that blinds you from seeing and knowing God.  As Paul wrote, “If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 4:3).”  However, the Bible says that whenever a man turns to Christ and is born again, this veil (his sinful nature) is removed so that he can then see and know God      (2 Corinthians 3:18).  Paul taught, “In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the sinful nature, by the circumcision of Christ (Colossians 2:11).”  Therefore, the torn veil signifies the removal of our sinful nature that occurs when we are born again in Christ.  Thus Jesus Christ, by His death on the cross, has delivered us from the curse of sin (by forgiving our sins and removing our sinful nature) so that we could be reconciled to a holy God.

   This is why the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the most momentous event in human history.  With the advent of the new covenant, the temple in Jerusalem ceased to be the place where God’s people worshipped Him (but could never enter into His presence).  Because of the blood of Jesus, we can now worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21-24).  God can dwell in us by His Spirit and we can be His holy temple (1 Corinthians 3:16).  Because of the blood of Jesus, there no longer is any veil or barrier that can separate us from God’s love and intimate friendship.

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He opened for us through the veil, that is, His body… let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.”  Hebrews 10:19-22

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