Chapter 5 – Becoming the Spiritual Person God wants you to be

I pray that your desire is to love others with the transforming love of Jesus. The story at the beginning of Chapter 5 about Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller illustrates how powerful genuine love can be. So how do we become that kind of influential Christian?

Learning your identity and calling in Christ is a huge first step. As you rest in your identity as a child of God who is unconditionally loved by your father, you will develop a sense of peace and security that comes from knowing that you have peace with God. As you grow in your understanding of your calling as a saint, you will grow in your understanding of the significant part God wants you to play in his kingdom plans.

With all this, however, we still need something else. We need to learn to deepen our obedience to and dependence on the Holy Spirit who was given to us at the time of our salvation.

1 Corinthians 2:14-3:3 is a very important passage in understanding the importance of our relationship with the Holy Spirit. It presents 3 different kinds of people.

  • There is the natural person – This is a person who does not know Christ and does not possess the Holy Spirit. This person is controlled by his flesh. Read and meditate on Romans 8:5-8. People who are according to the flesh are hostile towards God and they are unable and unwilling to submit to God. According to 1 Corinthians 2:14, the natural person is unable to accept the things of God; they are foolishness to him.
  • There is the spiritual person (1 Corinthians 2:15-16) – This is a person who is a believer and is governed by the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit is in control, the fruit of the Spirit flows from your life and your ability to understand and value things comes from God himself.
  • There is the fleshly person – This is a person who knows Christ and possesses the Holy Spirit, but is, at this time, allowing his flesh to dominate his life. Even though he is a Christian, much of his life will mirror someone who doesn’t know Christ, because his flesh is in control. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 that his life will be filled with jealousy and strife. This person will have very little influence for the kingdom of God and his life will be devoid of the joy that the Holy Spirit wants to give.

So how do we become that Spiritual person? Paul gives the answer in Galatians 5:16-25. This is one of the most important passages in my life. I have committed it to memory and I would encourage you to do the same.

Paul says, Walk (or live) by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do(Galatians 5:16-17)

Walking by the Spirit is a relationship of dependence and obedience with the Holy Spirit. It is a moment by moment relationship. I find myself praying throughout the day for God’s help (his grace) and his direction. When I blow it (as I often do), I confess that I fleshed out and resubmit myself to the Holy Spirit. As you practice this, you will grow and become better at it. The more you are in tune with the Holy Spirit, the more you will see the fruit of the Spirit coming out of your life (Galatians 5:22-23) and you will experience greater victory over your fleshly desires.

One other important factor in walking by the Spirit is the Word of God. The Word of God is your spiritual food that will strengthen your desire to walk by the Spirit and your knowledge of how God wants you to live. Learn to set time aside on a regular basis studying God’s Word and going over your day from his perspective. There is a neat cycle that you will discover. The more you spend time in God’s Word, the more you will find yourself walking by the Spirit, the more you are controlled by the Spirit, the greater your understanding of God’s Word will be. It’s awesome, those two practices feed each other! God bless – Let him control you this week.

 

To stir your thought:

  • When you are walking by the flesh, what are the particular struggles that come out? (see works of the flesh: Galatians 5:19-21)
  • Think about your key relationships. How would greater consistency in walking by the Spirit transform those relationships?
  • Think about your key struggles in life. How would walking by the Spirit help you in those struggles?
  • What are the roadblocks that keep you from walking by the Spirit?
  • What will you do this week to overcome those roadblocks?

Chapter 4 – Something Old, Something New

So far, I hope you’ve seen the importance of the truth that, if you are in Christ, you have a new identity and this identity is the basis of a life of transformation. If you have placed your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are a saint! You have been set apart by God for his purposes. You have been set free from slavery to sin, and you have been given the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Read Romans 6:1-11, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

This does not mean that the struggle is over! Please understand this. My failure to understand the truth of God’s word as taught in this chapter almost drove me to despair. What helped me greatly was the discovery that the Apostle Paul struggled with the same battle that I face. Take a moment and read Romans 7:15-24. You may not understand everything Paul is saying, but I hope you can sense the emotion of utter frustration.

The truth is that we are God’s creation in process. We have been set free from our bondage to sin, but we are in the process of learning to live that way by faith.

Before I was a Christian, I was dead to God and alive to sin (Ephesians 2:1-3). I lived according to my flesh (Read Romans 8:5-8). The result was I was actively hostile towards God and I was both unwilling and incapable of pleasing God.

When I became a follower of Jesus, I gained a new identity – literally, I became a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17). Paul says, I have a new self (or a new person). Notice what he says about my new self. It is being renews in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Colossians 3:9–10 (ESV)
9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Ephesians 4:24 says that my new self is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

This new self is the new me, but as long as I live in this dying body, I will still have the flesh in me which is still hostile towards God and still doesn’t want to submit to the law of God. The difference is that the flesh or my old self (see Ephesians 4:22 and Colossians 3:9) is no longer “me.” The real “me” is the new self that God put in me at the time of my salvation.

Paul refers to this change of identity in Romans 7:17 & 20. He says when I do the things I hate, it is no longer I who do it, but sin which dwells in me! This is important, because when you are tempted to sin, the temptation is that this will somehow satisfy or please YOU, but that is a lie!!! It will satisfy or please SIN which is in you, but you will find the real you hating the sin!

So how do I get out of the frustration of Romans 7? We will discuss the answer in the next chapter, but if you can’t wait, start reading Romans 8 and Galatians 5:16-25. It is found in the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen your new self so that you won’t just act like God, you will be like God!

This is not easy stuff to understand. I encourage you to read through Chapter 4 of Victory Over the Darkness several times, look up and meditate on the Scriptures that I’ve listed and do a lot of journaling so you can clarify these concepts in your mind. You are on a journey of transformation and it is because of the work that Jesus has done and is doing in you!

 

To stir your thought:

  • So far, in your journey through this book, what have been some of the profound truths you have learned? What effect are they having in your life?
  • How would you describe your frustration in your desire to live for God?
    (see Paul’s in Romans 7:14-25)
  • Do you think it is important to see the flesh as who you were rather than who you are? Why or Why not?
  • What specific areas of your life does the flesh seem to manifest itself the most? How does it show up?
  • Take those same areas: If you chose to live in your new nature which is created after the likeness of God, how would your behavior and words change? What would the effect in your life be?

Chapter 3 – See Yourself for Who You Really Are

This chapter helps me understand the simplicity and yet the great battle in spiritual growth. I have experienced great power when I accept myself for who God says I am in Christ. My experience of joy grows and my influence in the lives of others deepens.

Oh, but I wish it were that simple? The world, Satan, and even my own thinking lead me to feelings of condemnation, abandonment, and powerlessness. That’s why I have to stay close to God’s Word. When I forget that God says I am accepted, forgiven, loved, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (just to name a few) I am easy prey for the attacks of Satan. When I remember and believe what God says about me in the pressures and challenges of daily life, I experience victory!

This entire chapter resonates with me because for years in my early walk with Christ, I skimmed the great doctrinal passages of the New Testament. I was obsessed with discovering what God wanted me to do while ignoring the fouthe community at right right you will see it really is a& maybe only you that’s not for you and is selling it online though and we got it so this is the limit on coolndational truth of how God has equipped me to live. The result was great frustration in my life.

Passages like Romans 1-8, Ephesians 1-3, and Colossians 1-2 have given me a foundation on which to build my life. That foundation is the grace of God that has come through the death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and future coming of Jesus Christ.

I want to encourage you to master the truths in the list titled, “Since I am in Christ.” When you believe what God says, you will find incredible motivation and power that will help you grow in Christ, overcome sin, and love others! I’ve seen the power of what happens when people finally believe the truth of God’s Word. It impacts their marriage, their emotions, their parenting, and their influence on others. You can’t deeply love others, until you experience the boundless, unconditional love of God through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:14-21)

As you learn to live in God’s grace, your next step is to discover the power of speaking God’s grace into the lives of others:

 

Ephesians 4:29 (NASB95)
29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

The power of godly, loving words to encourage others is overwhelming. I find that it’s very easy to find what people are doing wrong, but it’s so much more powerful to help people discover their potential in Christ.

To stir your thought:

  • What are the thoughts and feelings that plague you when you sin against God? How do these thoughts and feelings hold you back from being restored to intimacy with God?
  • Choose three truths from the list of this chapter (since I am in Christ) that have hit you the hardest. How would your life change if you believed will God’s word says is true about you?
  • What change does God want to make in your speech (Ephesians 4:29)?
  • Who, specifically, does God want you to encourage this week? How are you going to do that?okay what to call

Chapter 2 – The Whole Gospel

Do you want to find the motivation and power to say no to the things that constantly trip you up? Do you want to find the courage to make progress in your walk with Christ, your role as a husband, father, student, or worker? Then embrace who you are in Christ – learn to focus on it and meditate on the implications and you’ll discover a motivation that has eluded you.

It is not what you do as a Christian that determines who you are; it is who you are the determines what you do.” (VOTD – p 46)

The Gospel doesn’t simply forgive your sins, it gives you the righteousness of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21). This is the basis for our growth as followers of Jesus. That’s why love the word, saint. More than 240 times, followers of Jesus are called saints. When you became a follower of Jesus, God set you apart for His purpose! The church is a collection of saints (people who have been set apart by God) and that’s why we collectively are called the body of Christ. We are here individually and corporately to finish the work that Jesus started when he came to this Earth.

Spend extra time with this second list of “who I am” in Christ that begins on p 51. Focus on the ones that help us see the work that God has for us to do. My personal favorite is 1 Peter 2:9-10. I’d like to hear your favorite and what it will mean as you embrace it in your life.

Are you beginning to see what it means that you have been set apart? Before you were a believer, you had no purpose other than something that you could make up for yourself. But now you are a child of God was been called to glorify God and represent him to others around you who don’t know him. You have the potential to make an eternal difference in the destiny of your friends, your neighbors, and your family. The more you embrace this, the more you’re to find the motivation and the power to say no to the things that are plaguing you and to say yes to the new life that Jesus Christ has for you.

To stir your thought:

  • What have you learned so far about who you are in Christ? How could you develop habits to remind yourself of these truths?
  • How could you encourage remind other believers with who they are in Christ?
  • What is the message that the enemy of your soul (Satan) gives you most often about yourself? How can you apply faith to overcome that message?

Chapter 1 – Who are You?

Living the resurrection life of Jesus

As we approach Easter, my prayer is that this study is going to overwhelm you as you think of what Jesus accomplished through his death, his burial, and his resurrection. In our staff meeting at the Bridge today, we were discussing the question, “In one word, how would you describe the impact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ?” Words like victory, hope, power, freedom, came flowing in our discussion. . .and then it hit me. Victory Over the Darkness is a book about experiencing the resurrection power of Jesus in your daily life!

Chapter 1 focuses on the simple truth that we were created with a body, soul, and spirit so we could live in intimate fellowship with God and with each other. Our sin messed that up so that we became self-centered, self-protective, hard hearted, fearful, lonely, angry people.

That’s why Jesus came. He came to restore us and bring us back to fellowship with God. He died for our sins, he was buried, and he rose again from the dead demonstrating that he had victory over our greatest enemies: sin and death.

If you are a child of God, your sins have been forgiven and you are free from condemnation forever (Romans 8:1). At the end of chapter 1, there are a series of “I am” statements that describe who you are because of what Jesus has done!

Take time and look up each Scripture that is listed. Circle the 4 that seem to jump out to you the most. Carry those with you this week. The more you believe what God says is true about you, the more you will discover the victory, hope, power, and freedom that Jesus died and rose from the dead to give you.

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10

To stir your thoughts

  • Why is the question, “Who are you?” important to how you live?
  • How has the fall of man affected our world? How has it affected you?
  • Read the list of “who I am in Christ” several times. Choose 5 that seem to hit you the hardest. If you’re in a small group, share those 5 and how believing and living by them would change your life?

New Journey – Victory Over the Darkness

We are beginning a new journey this week as we spend time discussing Neil Anderson’s book, Victory Over the Darkness. This book was written in 1990 and made a huge difference in my spiritual life. I’m going to reflect on each chapter once a week and I truly hope you will comment and participate in the discussion. My passion is that you will discover the freedom, the significance, and the joy of being “in Christ.” If you don’t know what it means to be in Christ, you’re in for a treat. Whether or not you are a part of the Bridge, I invite you to join us on this journey. You can pick up the book from Amazon, or it is also available on Kindle. Let me start with one thought. One of the key concepts of the book is the fact that when you become a follower of Jesus, he gives you a new identity. As a follower of Christ, you are a child of God! You are forgiven! As you learn to believe what God says about you, you will discover that you have a greater motivation to grow and greater power to make significant changes in your life. God bless. I look forward to the first installment.

 

Note to those who are participating in Small Groups: I will publish questions at the bottom of each post. These are designed to help you with your small group discussions. I pray that you will talk about your life and struggles, that you will encourage each other, and pray for each other as a group. I believe this journey could change your life.