Faith to Believe

A Physician for Life's Deepest Issues

By Jim Allen

The Bible has some interesting things to say about people. Those who are well have no need for a physician. Those who are not and recognize their need do, and become Christians (Luke 5:31). Christianity is more than philosophy and doctrine for doing all the right things. Christianity is about the need for a Physician, a desperate cry for someone to help deal with life's deepest issues. Christianity is also about coming to know this Physician in a way that will result in exchanging a life that cannot live for one that will never die (Luke 17:33).

I like this idea about exchanging something that will not last for something that will. This idea comes with a story. It is a story about the struggle to exchange what we cannot keep for what we cannot earn. Most of the world scoffs at this story line. But here's the thing. This story has a beginning and an ending. The script for this story is still being written by you, me, and everyone else. In short, we are the authors of our own story and will write the last chapter with words of faith or the lack thereof.

Jesus talks about this story when he said, "...I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand" (John 10:28). But, within this promise is the beginning of the proverbial struggle to exchange the old for the new, a struggle from doubt to enduring faith. Grant Phillips says of this struggle:
Perhaps the greatest Christian in our Lord's Church would be the Apostle Paul, although he would not think so. I think of him, and he most definitely leaned heavily upon the Lord and listened to the Holy Spirit's guidance in his life, but he also struggled with issues in his life. Don't think so? Read Romans 7:7-25. The greatest Apostle still wrestled with sin and temptations. Why? He was still human. He still had an old sin nature that wrestled with his new nature. [Source]
While it is true — believers come into the world with a fallen nature — it is also true the old nature is dealt a deathblow when a person is born again (2 Corinthians 5:17). While it may not die immediately, its days are numbered. It took Paul a while to realize this but eventually he got it. Jesus talks about this death sentence when he said, "...If you continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32; 1 Peter 1:23).

Getting free from something is always a struggle. But, here's the thing. The apostle Paul said believers need to reckon themselves dead to sin and alive to God (Romans 6:1-2; 11). Reckon means to reason something to be true. It is a done deal if faith seals the deal. But, how do believers reckon the old nature dead when it appears so alive?

Such a prospect is difficult to understand and yet there is a spiritual principle at work. Though we know our salvation is assured, we do not always understand those moments when the old nature slithers off the cross to overpower the new nature innocently standing by. So, what gives with this spiritual principle of reckoning the old nature dead when it, at times, is surely not? Is victory in Jesus just a nice melody in a hymn, or is it real? A B Simson writes,
The answer is our failure to 'reckon our old life dead and our inability to abide in the faith of our resurrection' is what drags us back. Believers believe the old life is still alive that makes it real and keeps a believer from overcoming it. This is the principle which underlies the whole Gospel system that believers receive according to the reckoning of our faith (Matthew 9:29).

The magic wand of faith will lay all the ghosts that can rise in the cemetery of your soul; and the spirit of doubt will bring them up from the grave to haunt believers as long as they continue to question. The only way for us to die, is by surrendering self to Christ and then reckoning it to be dead with Him. [Source]
Simson has it right. While faith keeps the sin nature nailed to the cross, doubt gives it life. This struggle between faith and doubt is an ominous fact, most often the result from having a double mind (2 Corinthians 10:5-6; James 1:8). The only power the old nature has to slither down off the cross is the power we give it by doubting what is clearly taught (Hebrews 4:11; Ephesians 6:11).

Simpson is only repeating what Paul already knew: "Old things have passed away and all things have become new." Confusion, doubt and neglect about this certainty are the gremlins that softly whisper, "Hath God really said our old nature is dead...that you are a new creature in Christ?" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Yes, God really said it. He said it multiple times and in countless ways.

Doubt is like a briar patch that entangles the soul in piercing thorns of unbelief. The entangled soul learns defeat instead of freedom of passage. Any form of snarled bondage for the believer is unnecessary. As a result, believers cry out, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner." They do not realize the Lord has shown mercy, even to count them blameless in His sight (Colossians 1:22).

The Apostle Paul knew the believer's walk would be lacking, even at times causing deep issues in life. He knew well the cry for mercy (1 Timothy 1:15). Paul knew the sting of failure but also the joy of victory through faith. Paul wants believers to see the truth (about themselves) as God sees it.

God sees the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). If born again, He sees the old nature crucified and our new nature risen in Christ (Romans 6:6-7; 6:4). This is the promise and power of God at work in us. This is the story we can tell to all who will listen.

In closing, Bobby Conway sees the cross as the "exclamation point" in the ministry of Christ. I like his imagery! Conway goes on to say the cross was "Jesus' conquering moment of triumph over sin, Satan, and the grave...Take away the cross and we're no different from any other religious idea. It's Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection. Strip away all the modern church fluff and this is what you find at the core of our faith." [1]

The finished work of the cross is the essential truth we can never use to negotiate a better deal, deny its power, or compromise its claim. Living this story is what makes us different and that's okay. "It's what makes us who we are. It's what makes Christians 'Christian.' And it's why Jesus is the answer to all of life's deepest issues." [2]

1,2The Fifth Gospel (pp. 18-19) Harvest House Publishers Kindle Edition

Image Credit: Jim Bauer; "To Save Us"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Salvation  | Biblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Sin-Evil

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Published 3-30-15