Living Free in the Spirit of Christ

Free The Church


Transformation from the Inside Out

The new birth breaks through the old man.

Published on: Jul 28, 2008

This is the creative order of regeneration. We forget it because we are aware of our responsibilities. Our awareness that we have a part to play in our discipleship is important. For when all is said and done, we are accountable to God for our choices. Nevertheless, Jesus made several statements regarding the work of God in our lives.

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:21 KJV)

Regeneration is an inside out transformation. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for misunderstanding the need.

25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. (Matt 23:25-26 KJV)

Every born again believer knows this reality. And we all know that we have a responsibility to attend to the outside of the cup. But how easy it is for us to forget that the work of discipleship still belongs to God, and not us. A knot in the rope will get tighter if one pulls the outside ends. The knot has to be loosened from the middle, or the inside, in order for the knot to become undone. Sometimes we try to clean our insides from the outside and the dirt merely becomes trapped within. It is for the Lord to loosen the knot from the inside and make the hole for the dirt to come out so that it does not remain within.

Jesus said that he was the vine and that we were the branches (John 15:5), and that if we abide in Him we can bear fruit. Plants are used as types for us throughout the Bible. We are called trees of righteousness in Isaiah (61:3). The life of the plant is in the roots. Cut a tree down and let the roots remain and the tree will sprout again. Hebrews says not to let roots of bitterness grow in our hearts (12:15). Bitterness has to be uprooted for it has a life of its own and can grow again. The point is that the life is in the roots. If Jesus is the vine, then the Spirit of God is the root.

Our spirits are the life of our souls and bodies. The human spirit is the root of our being. The Holy Spirit is joined to our spirit (1 Cor 6:17) because as the root goes, so goes the tree. The work of roots are slow. A tree planted near a sidewalk will, in time, break up the concrete of the sidewalk as the roots grow. Deadwood falls off the tree when the winds blow. Troubles and trials that come into our lives are part of the plan of God to shake and break off the deadwood. Paul uses a similar analogy with foundations (roots) and fire (wind).

12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. (1 Cor 3:12-13 KJV)

I don’t believe this refers to the judgment seat of Christ, but the trials that come to us in our lives, ordained by God to remove the deadwood in our lives. Much self effort is spent in trying to remove the deadwood, or the grave clothes (John 11:44) of the Old Man (Rom. 6:6, Eph 4:22). This is a misunderstanding of our responsibility in our discipleship. This is cleaning the cup from the outside. Jesus told the Pharisees to clean the cup from the inside, first. This is a work of the flesh, not the spirit, and may tighten the knot from the outside. How then do we clean the cup from the inside?

It means that our thoughts and focus should nurture the New Man within, and not the Old Man without. If we stay focused on the Old Man all the time, the New Man is starved. When I care for my trees, I do cut off some dead branches, but my main concern is to keep the roots watered and nourished for the tree to grow. If I water the branches, the roots will dry up. We nourish the New Man by focusing on who we are in Christ, and the faithfulness and will of God to transform us. When we are faithless, He remains faithful (2 Tim 2:13). He is the Author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2). He who began a good work in you is able to complete until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6). Given time, watered and nurtured, the roots of our new spirit will break apart the concrete our Old Man.

To sum up then, what is our part in our discipleship? It is to stay focused on Him and respond by removing the deadwood when he knocks it down, or dispose of the broken pieces of the concrete on our hearts when the roots of His life break through. And if we are abiding in His vine, then He will grow the fruit in our lives.

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