BE THE NEW MAN!
By Lay Pastor Jusuf Wibisono
Lemah Putro, Sunday, September 16, 2018
Can we tell people indulged in their old ways from new-born believers? Ephesians 2: 1-3 describe the differences as follows: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
Do we wish to be new men? Ephesians 5 unfolds a great secret regarding the Church united with Jesus Christ, the Heavenly Bridegroom. With this in mind, we must live a transformed life by putting away the old ways in preparation for His return.
How do we prepare ourselves to be new men? Without question, there is no harm in improving our knowledge of the Word of God by enrolling at a college of theology. John 3: 1-6 write,”There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born? Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’ ”
In fact, a person’s spiritual status or religion cannot guarantee that they understand the significance of new life or rebirth. Despite the fact that Nicodemus was a religious leader and a Pharisee who was undoubtedly a Law expert, he did not understand what being born again was all about.
The birth of a baby typically goes with water, blood and spirit (life-giving breath). What are the conditions of being born again in order to enter (not simply see) the Kingdom of God?
The blood of Jesus must redeem / forgive our sins (Ephesians 1: 7).
The water of God’s water must sanctify us (Ephesians 5: 26).
The Holy Spirit must guide us into all truth (John 16: 13).
In line with the Tabernacle scheme, a new life goes through a process:
The Gate → Faith, that is, believing that Jesus died to redeem our sins
The Altar of Burnt Offering → Repentance: stop sinning and putting away the old ways (Ephesians 4: 25-29)
The Laver → New Life
The Door of the Tent → Baptism with the Holy Spirit
What are the characters of the devil? The devil is a murderer and the father of lies (John 8: 44). He comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10: 10). An arrested thief definitely lies and denies having stolen something. In reality, he has wanted the item. Evidently, he has transgressed the 8th commandment (You shall not steal), the 9th commandment (You shall not bear false witness) and the 10th commandment (You shall not covet).
Only God is able to transform our lives. If we could improve ourselves with good works, God the Father would not have sent His only Son to the world. Therefore, without protest, let Jesus work on us with the power of His sacrifice. And let Him bring to light our sins that we must get rid of.
A husband or wife is not able change his or her spouse. Likewise, parents cannnot shape up the characters of their children in their own strength. Let’s cry out to God and honor His sacrifice. Then He will set us free from the bondage of sins to experience a life transformation.
Please note that the sins of wickedness and impurities attack the minors. For this reason, let’s not blind our minds with the idol of this age (2 Corinthians 4: 4). On top of that, let’s not love the world and all the things in it, namely, the lust of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2: 15-17). Instead, let’s hear the Word of Christ so that we may have faith (Romans 10: 17). Then, put the Word into practice on a daily basis.
In life, we have two options: If we love the world, we will not love the Heavenly Father (1 John 2:15); we serve either God or Mammon (Matthew 6: 24). In the same way, Jesus had to make a choice when the devil tempted Him with food at the time when He was hungry. Apart from that, the devil would give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world with their grandeur if He would worship him (Matthew 4: 3-9).
With all his trickery, the devil makes every effort, tempting children of God to commit sin. For example, children have more and more activities at school. Even on Sundays, they have competitions that cost them their Sunday services. In the same way, parents have such hectic work schedules that they get home late at night. Aside from that, they have appointments with their customers on Sundays and forget to attend church. The Lord advices us to remember Lot’s wife (Luke 17: 32) who turned into a pillar of salt as she looked back because she could not leave her possessions behind with good grace (Genesis 19:26).
Basically, man tend to break rules. For example, children know that smoking harms their health. Yet, they smoke without fear for the risk. It has been publicized that harsh punishment awaits drug traffickkers. After all, the forbidden items are smuggled without ceasing even in larger amounts and more numerous places.
Men are getting more and more immoral, overpowered by lust so that their age (flesh) will be no longer than 120 years (Genesis 6: 3). Men’s body and soul are mortal by nature. Only God is able to renew our lives, starting with our souls who believe in Him. And all sins will be put to death – “burned up” on the Altar of Burnt Offering.
Furthermore, we were buried together with Him by baptism into death. Then we were raised from the dead and walk in newness of life (Romans 6: 4). The following biblical figures once experienced newness of life:
Lazarus rose from the dead (John 11: 44).
Naaman, Captain of the army, obtained a new body following his recovery from leprosy (2 Kings 5: 14).
Jacob, which means “deceiver,” got his life renewed following a wrestle with a man that ended up with a blessing as a reward for his “victory.” And his name got changed to Israel which means “the prince of God” (Genesis 32: 38).
The heartless Saul who mistreated the followers of Jesus was transformed after his encounter with Jesus (Acts 9). He lost his eyesight for 3 days. He experienced “death” to rise with the Lord who used him in an awesome way. Later he was better known as Paul, meaning “humble” or “small.”
God called Abram to leave his country, his relatives and his father’s house for a country that He would show him (Genesis 12). Following his covenant with God, his name Abram was renamed to Abraham (with the inserted H, that is, Yahweh). His life was renewed because of the name of Yahweh in his name. Abraham became the father of a great number of nations (Genesis 17: 5). Similarly, God changed Sarai to Sara, the mother of nations (vv. 15-16).
We are sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit to live in all truth (John 16: 13). The Lord gives us a new heart full of obedience. And His Spirit lives in our conscience, enabling us to live out His statutes and holding on to His judgements to put into practice (Ezekiel 36: 25-27).
The Lord also pours the clear water of His Word, cleansing us from all filthiness, wickedness and sins. We are continually renewed to be firstborn of His creatures (James 1: 18).
The Bible advices a young man to keep his way pure by keeping His Word and not wandering from His commandments (Psalm 119: 9-11). If we do the Word in obedience, we will not easily stumble (2 Peter 1: 10).
Let’s get rid of our old lifestyles and be ready to be renewed by the redeeming blood of Jesus, washed by the sanctifying water of the Word and filled with the Holy Spirit. In this way, our new lives will be a testimony to those who do not know God (yet). Amen.