1 John 3: 1-2
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
How the spiritual world sees us
Key teaching: We are born again, by the Spirit, in Jesus, as new creations who are in a new covenant with God, a Father-child relationship. The enemy may be active as god of this world, but we have spiritual authority because of this relationship.
(a) Us, Jesus and the spiritual world
Galatians 4:3-7 …We were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
The Galatians passage referenced speaks of the former slavery to religious form and law, which was the way the old covenant operated. Old covenant roughly equates to Old Testament – the O.T. is written from a perspective of God’s people under God’s law but under the protection and provision of the covenants established with Abraham, Moses etc. This agreement with God through the law (10 commandments and more) changed to a new and much better form of agreement through Jesus, which is not just for Jews but includes all people who choose to accept Jesus, and where we benefit from God’s grace and His favour for us in this new and personal relationship, rather than being judged on how well we do. This seems like a big jump in understanding – but the Holy Spirit, who gives us this new relationship, also shows us what it means and releases us to know the Father in that familiar way.
TO EXPLORE: The Giving of the Law, Exodus 20:1-20
Once we accept Jesus as the One who saves us (rather than our own efforts) and choose to allow Him to have charge of our lives, the Bible says it is as if we become new people – new creations (2 Cor. 5:17). This new creation of who we are in Jesus is defined in our 1 John 3 passage (ref) as us being a child of God. Jesus came into the world as the Son of God. We have the status conferred on us as children of God – not the same thing, but closely related. This new identity has big implications for how the spiritual world – both good and bad – sees us, and for how we praise, pray, hear and obey God and bring enforcement of His rule where He shows us to.
(b) Spiritual authority over lies
The first place is in our heads! There may be all kinds of thoughts going round. Not all of them are from us, and not all of them are true. The devil is a master at inserting his thoughts – which are all, without exception, untrue – in among our thoughts, and disguising them as thoughts or insights that have come from the Holy Spirit. Complicated? No, this is just another form of junk mail or spam email that we are all too familiar with. However, as believers, we have spiritual armour, including the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:10-18). We are empowered to choose to think truth, and we have authority to identify lies and evict them. We have authority over our thought life, as children of God, to say what stays and what goes, to allow what is good and to disallow and cancel out what is not
(c) Spiritual authority to declare, not just ask
Knowing who we are – children of God – changes how we pray. When we feel powerless, we ask God. It’s a good starting point. But God expects us, as His children, to do what we know to do – often what He shows us to say or do – and He works through our faith. Moses and the tribes were in the desert (a dry place) with their livestock, and there was no water.
TO EXPLORE: Read this in the Bible in Numbers 20:1-10
The people were getting thoroughly stressed about this, and Moses sought God’s intervention. No doubt he cried out to God for water! But God told Moses he would have to exercise faith through a bizarre action. He was to take his staff, speak over a particular rock and strike it twice, and water would come.
About 1300 years later, Jesus modelled this and taught this – to take a couple of examples, He spoke to the wind and waves threatening to sink the boat in a storm (Matt. 8:23-26) and He taught the disciples to use words of faith declared, to take authority over obstacles – to ‘move a mountain’ (Mark 11:22-24).
Knowing who we are in Christ moves us from asking God, to beginning to use our spiritual authority as God directs us. That is a step change.
(d) Spiritual presence that transforms
The world – people around us – see us as people just like them and are sensitive to any suggestion we may give off that we are superior or ‘holier’ than them. Don’t go there! You don’t need to. Whether others want to acknowledge it or not, they may well see that there is ‘something’ in us, and it is a ‘something’ that blesses people and situations wherever we go. With the Holy Spirit in us, we are salt that purifies, and light that pushes back darkness (Matthew 5:13-16). You know that one or two people that enter a room, can change the dynamics of that group or conversation, just be being there. As we grow in awareness of who we are in Christ – specifically, our identity as children of God – we will be more confident about going into places and situations where we don’t feel comfortable and allowing God to work through us as a transforming spiritual presence. We are all called to be missionaries somewhere, and it usually starts close to home.
TAKE AWAY CHALLENGE
There’s a saying: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” How tough are you? When you are in a tough situation, how do you pray differently? How will this teaching about who you are, help you grow?