July 29, 2013
We want to continue this week in our study regarding the new birth.
The second effect of the “born again” experience is victory. First John 5:4, 5 states, For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world. but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
Notice carefully that victory is accomplished through Christ-not self. Multitudes strive to overcome sin and temptation, but the flesh has no power to win the battle. The overcomer is … he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God . …Christ in you… (Colossians 1:27) makes the difference. He promotes the desire for victory and provides the strength.
Paul knew this well. After describing the duel of the two natures-the old received at birth and new received at conversion-he cries, …if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God (Romans 8:13.14). Then, having allowed God’s Spirit to equip him for life’s battle, he victoriously said as death approached, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day… (2 Timothy 4:7).
The new nature, controlled by the Spirit, makes believers …more than conquerors through him that loved us (Romans 8:37). What do they conquer? First John 2:15-17 answers the question. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever. It is obvious, then, that they overcome the world or worldliness consisting of: A) the lust of the flesh, B) the lust of the eyes, and C) the pride of life. Let’s consider these three items individually.
The lust of the flesh concerns itself with the cravings of one’s bodily appetites. This includes illicit sex, drinking, drug addiction, smoking, or any other vice that the flesh practices. I am not preaching perfection. Christians can slip and fall, but that is vastly different from becoming enslaved to fleshly lusts.
The problem is not one’s possession of an old nature, but the old nature’s possession of a person. The latter means that one has not been “born again,” for “regeneration” endows one with a “divine nature” (see 2 Peter 1:4), which immediately begins an onslaught against the old corrupt flesh. When one never experiences victory, it becomes obvious that the new nature is missing, for the “new birth” is not a new label on a defiled product but the implantation of the divine nature which changes one instantaneously.
That’s why 2 Corinthians 5:17 declares, …if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Enslavement to sin points to an empty profession-just lip service-and leads one into helplessness for the ages of eternity, for … the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever (1 John 2:17).
Where do you stand? Are you a daily “overcomer” through the power of the indwelling Spirit? Or are you a slave to lust? Remember, if there is no desire for victory, no quest for victory, no evidence of victory, there will be no victory celebration in heaven.
Next, we discover that this new nature helps one to have victory over the cravings of the mind through the eye gate. Lust, via the eyes, is one of the greatest promoters of immorality today. This is why pornography and abominable sex movies are destroying lives, homes, and nations. Millions presently have …eyes full of adultery…that cannot cease from sin (2 Peter 2:14). They mentally undress every woman they see and vice-versa. They purchase the latest sex magazines, hide them among their possessions, and secretly read them. They gaze at nude pictures and commit mental adultery with naked paper dolls.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, … whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. This is what’s wrong with Hollywood productions. This is why much of television’s degrading influence should be opposed and stopped. Americans are becoming sex maniacs because of the manifold means created to produce excitation and lust. It is even affecting church members by the tens of thousands. Scores are walking the aisles in crusades to give up the sin which has plagued them-lustful eyes. How much farther will it go?
Once I saw a four-foot picture of a naked woman hanging in a deacon’s garage. I asked, “Brother, aren’t you a Christian and a deacon?” He meekly answered, “Yes.” I pointed to his picture and said, “What’s that?” He said, “Art. ” I said, “Art who?” This actually happened! Though it appears humorous now, it won’t be funny later.
A day is coming when all lust-controlled sinners shall be eternally separated from God. First John 2:17 declares, … the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. Is it any wonder that Romans 13:14 states, …put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. And 1 Peter 2:11 warns, …abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. Someone cries, “That’s easier said than done.” Not if one depends upon the indwelling Spirit rather than self! Galatians 5:16 proves it. Walk in the Spirit, and [you] shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Another area over which one may enjoy victory is one’s ego. This has to do with haughty, arrogant boasting over one’s accomplishments and gains. How often one hears church members egotistically saying, “We are now a three car family,” or “We are considering the purchase of our $500,000 dream home,” or “We have investments in stocks, bonds, and banks and are sitting pretty, financially.”
Jesus said, …out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh and … by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned (Matthew 12:34 and 37). Small wonder that James 4:4 warns, …know ye not that the friendship of the world [composed of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life] is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the ENEMY [Yes, the ENEMY] of God. Therefore, Paul pleads in Romans 12:2, …be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind .… The ways of the world lead to doom and death. About-face for Christ!
The third and final proof has to do with love. First John 4:7,8 states, Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
May I repeat that? Are you listening? The statement is so important that one’s eternal existence in heaven or hell depends on it. Hear it again. He that loveth not knoweth not God… (1 John 4:8).
First John 3:14 declares, We know [not hope, guess or think-but know] that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. The next verse says, Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and (you) know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him (verse 15). Think of it! This is astonishing. Hatred becomes murder in God’s eyes, and no murderer (hater of others) has eternal life abiding in him.
A life of hate classifies one as a “child of the devil,” for God says in 1 John 3:10: In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. Imagine! Folks who fight, fuss, bicker, backbite, gossip, slander, malign, and criticize others are children of the devil! One cannot live a life of hate when God abides within, for “God is love.” Love is the evidence of one’s “born again” experience. So,… if we love one another, God dwelleth in us… (1 John 4:12). That’s why Jesus said in John 13:34, By this shall all men know that [you] are my disciples, [because] you have LOVE one for another.
Sad, is it not, that hate-mongers who honestly believe that bigotry, prejudice, and malice are acceptable standards for church members fill the ranks of religion. What a shock they’ll experience at the judgment day! Then they’ll know God meant what He said in James 1:26, If any man among you seem to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.
Then they’ll suffer judgment for the seven sins God hates. Perhaps these should be called the “Seven Deadly Sins.” They are, a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and [please get the final one] HE THAT SOWETH DISCORD AMONG THE BRETHREN (Proverbs 6:16-19 emphasis mine). Then when it is eternally too late, they will discover that the unrighteous, including “railers,” do not inherit the kingdom of God (see 1 Corinthians 6:9).
Webster’s Dictionary defines railers as “individuals who revile or scold in harsh, insolent, or abusive language.” God help us! Our ranks are full of members who carry on in this manner. Through their obnoxious, hateful insolence, churches are split and souls lost. Sinner, repent, change your mind and ways before it is too late! You need a “born again” experience! When this occurs, God’s nature of love will become a part of you and His love will rule your heart.
We have concluded in this study that holiness, victory, and love prove one’s salvation experience to be genuine. Where do you stand? Examine yourself to see whether or not you are in the faith (see 2 Corinthians 13:5). If the evidence is against you, settle the issue with God immediately. Eternity forever and forever and forever-is a long time to be lost!
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
Dealing With Depression
In the late nineteenth century, a man suffering from deep depression went to see a London psychiatrist. For two hours, he poured out his soul, trying desperately to explain the sense of futility that overwhelmed him. He hoped fervently that as he talked, his feeling of emptiness and desperation would somehow depart from him along with his words. He described his drained emotions and state of constant turmoil, begging the psychiatrist to say or do something that would release him from his misery and bondage.
The psychiatrist listened knowingly. He had heard the same story many times before. In fact, he shared many of the same feelings himself but passed them off as hazards of his profession. “I am going to prescribe a rather unorthodox remedy for you,” he told the man. “I want you to visit the circus.”
The man looked up inquisitively.
“You need to laugh,” the psychiatrist continued, “and the circus is the best place to do that.”
“I dont really think that will help me- ” the man began.
“Nonsense!” the doctor interrupted. “I went there myself recently. The whole experience was like a tonic to me.”
“But you see–“
“There is one particularly humorous fellow playing there-Grimaldi, the clown. Surely youve heard of him.”
“Oh yes, but-“
“Why, he can make anyone laugh, and I promise it will do you much good to see him.” The psychiatrist looked at his patient, whose sad eyes were beginning to form large tears.
“You dont understand,” the man said.
“Of course, I do,” replied the psychiatrist. “Ive just spent two hours listening to you. Youre suffering from depression. You could use something to make you laugh. Go see this fellow, Grimaldi.”
“I am trying to tell you, sir. I am Grimaldi. Those antics you see are only a performance. That smile is painted on! Inside I am a miserable, empty man.”
When success is not enough
The world is filled with miserable, empty, depressed people. Literally millions of Americans attempt suicide each year, playing out their dissatisfaction to its ultimate conclusion. (Weve talked about this earlier.) The statistics are shocking. Suicide is prevalent in every age group and social class but occurs more frequently in the upper-income brackets than in any other social stratum. Clearly, satisfaction cannot be guaranteed by money, prestige, fame, or even youth.
The shifting sands of popular opinion will never provide inner stability. Imagine how you would feel if you were depending on the worlds acclaim to ensure your feelings of well-being as an actor and you read in the latest TV Guide that you were “too old, too tall, and too fat” for a certain part. Of one actress in a widely hailed television special it was written that she was “lazy” and “relying on primitive skills.” That could deflate ones ego incredibly fast.
If your whole idea of satisfaction and happiness in this troubled world was linked to your performance (or whatever your given role in the world), this type of criticism could send you into an emotional tailspin. It happens all the time. It accounts in part, researchers tell us, for the growing rate of suicides among businessmen and women. Suicide among artists and writers is quite common, and executive suicides are on the increase. Dentists lead all professions in killing themselves, followed closely by psychiatrists. And doctors are also becoming suicidal with increasing frequency. What leads successful people such as these to this kind of demise?
Dr. Herbert Klemme, director of the Division of Industrial Mental Health at the Menninger Foundation, has suggested that as a person reaches the crest of life, after age 35 or so, he begins to struggle with the inevitability of his own death. He has to revise his life goals in terms of what is still possible to do. He has to be more realistic and may have to settle for a little less than he had hoped to achieve. For the person who is not reaching the goals he has set himself, the efforts can be unsettling or even devastating.
Intensely driven individuals are often very ambitious and have immense ego ideal aspirations. Oftentimes they find it difficult to relax and may have an almost total lack of a sense of humor. Living under this driving pressure to succeed, they have little optimism and easily despair.
Why is depression such a pervasive force in contemporary society? Why do so many who seem to have all they could want choose to end their own lives? Why is it that with all the technological advances of the past generation, depression and dissatisfaction continue to rule the hearts and minds of the vast majority?
The answer is clear-the source of real satisfaction and overcoming depression is a strong, abiding, personal relationship with a loving and merciful heavenly Father. No technology every developed, no amount of money, no amount of recognition or prestige, no device or drug designed by man can ever take the place of knowing God. I am convinced that much of the depression among people in our society is directly traceable to a deep spiritual void in their lives-a void that only the Lord himself can fill. The philosopher Pascal called it “a God-shaped vacuum in every man.”
How to receive your hearts desires
Psalm 37 is a rich passage of Scripture, written by David during a time when he was struggling with depression. He wrote:
Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass (verses 4, 5).
Contained in those short phrases is the answer to depression-Delight thyself…in the Lord. They also reveal a wonderful promise that deals with the challenge of dissatisfaction-He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
What does it mean to delight yourself in the Lord? Simply to turn your focus away from yourself, or, in the words of the apostle Paul, Set your affection of things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2). It means to make your relationship with God the central issue in your life-to desire to know Him, fellowship with Him, and live for His glory more than anything else.
I believe there is a dual meaning to the promise that God will give us our hearts desires. First, it means that He will fulfill our deepest longings-not the desires we have for things, but our desire for spiritual wholeness. Every human being, whether he is aware of it or not, has deep spiritual needs, and only God can satisfy them. He does that for those who delight themselves in Him.
The promise also means that God will place new desires and aspirations in our hearts. When He makes us spiritually whole, He gives us new priorities, new values-new desires. He gives us holy desires, desires for spiritual blessings, desires that only He can fulfill. And He delights in fulfilling them.
Sometimes, an experience is so dramatic and poignant that I am reminded anew of how amazing Gods love for us really is, and how wonderfully timely His grace is to those who need it most. Such an incident occurred one night several years ago in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We were conducting a citywide meeting there, and I was on the platform prior to the service getting the music ready. Suddenly, I noticed one of our counselors motioning that he would like to speak to me. He seemed to have something urgent to say, so I started a tape of background music and turned my attention to him.
“My wife and I were on our way to the service, when we saw a young woman jump from the bridge near the auditorium,” he told me breathlessly. “We rushed to the edge of the river and saw that she was struggling to get out of the water.”
My heart was pounding as I listened. He continued, “She made her way up to the shore, and my wife held her in her arms while I ran and phoned for an ambulance. By the time I had returned, my wife had told her about Gods love for her and Jesus death on the cross for people just like her.” The man told me that there, beside what could have been her watery grave; she found everlasting life by trusting Christ.
Gods timing was perfect. Not only did that couple arrive at the bridge just in time to save the womans life, but according to Gods perfect plan, they were able to give her something to live for as well. The salvation she received that night was not only salvation from a watery grave, but also salvation from an eternity apart from God.
Depression and dissatisfaction are not necessarily limited to those who do not know the Lord or who are walking out of His will. Interestingly, the great prophet Elijah also encountered this problem. Even more amazing is the fact that Elijahs depression hit him just after a great spiritual victory. In 1 Kings 18, we see Elijah winning a great contest against the prophets of Baal. God was vindicated, and the false prophets were destroyed. Yet in chapter 19, just days after this victory, we find Elijah pleading with God to take his life.
Part of Elijahs problem, Im sure, was that he was physically and emotionally exhausted. Therefore, the first thing God did was allow him to eat, sleep, and regain his strength (verses 4-9). Then, God spoke to him, listened to his complaints, encouraged him, and sent him right back to work! We can learn much from Elijahs battle with depression.
Physical causes for depression
First, depression may have a physical cause. Beware-Satan loves to take advantage of us when we become physically exhausted. Therefore, we should take time daily to exercise, rest, and guard our health by eating properly. I interviewed Judy McFarland twice-Judy and her mother Gladys Lindberg co-authored the book, Take Charge of Your Health. She helped me understand the relationship between good physical health and good mental and emotional health. Its terribly important. God has equipped our bodies with a wonderful healing system capable of handling almost any condition-provided it is given the nutritional support it needs. Judy says one essential fact must be understood if people are to maintain physical and emotional health-the state of their nutrition directly influences their bio-chemistry and their immunological system. There are many misunderstood health problems that go mis-diagnosed because a lot of medical people still refuse to recognize the correlation between nutrition and health.
Im glad that Jack and I recognized this long ago. Both of us enjoy to exercise regularly. And we know that the stress and wear and tear on our bodies caused by the kind of lives most of us lead today necessitates that we eat properly. Also, because there are so many contaminants in the environment and in the foods we all consume that we urge people to pay attention to well-informed people like Judy and her mother Gladys Lindberg (highly respected nutritionists living on the West Coast). When we take care of our bodies we are cooperating with the Creator. There is much said in the Bible on this important subject.
Spiritual causes of depression
Second, you may be attempting to wage the battle of life totally in the flesh, leaving God, His providence, and His power out of the picture. All of us must guard against running counter to or ahead of the Lord. I have long cherished and drawn comfort from the blessed promise contained in Proverbs 3:5, 6-Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Yes, we must allow Him to do the leading, and as we follow, refusing to be discouraged by fear or failure, we will find we can handle the stressful situations that come into our lives that might otherwise leave us depressed and overwhelmed.
Those who know the Lord should be the most satisfied in all the world. This isnt always the case, however, and sadly, is a poor commentary on our relationship to the very One who provides help and hope. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we dont want to admit that these “black nights of the soul” do come to us, and when they do we fail to turn to the Lord, committing our way to Him, trusting Him, and acknowledging that we need His help and direction.
Go to the top for help
Third, and finally, once you have recognized that you have a problem, dont give up and simply drown in your depression. Realize that you need help, consider the causes, and then begin looking for answers.
If the problem is physical, get medical help immediately.
If it is spiritual, take it to the Lord. Remember His compassionate invitation in Matthew 11:28, given to everyone-Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. If personal counseling is required, start with your pastor. Or if the problem seems to be unusually deep seated, see a Christian psychologist or psychiatrist.
Above all, dont make the mistake of taking comfort in self pity-of thinking that you are alone. Elijah did. He said, I, even I only, am left (1 Kings 19:10). But he was not really alone. God was on his side. Furthermore, God reminded him that there were seven thousand faithful people in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal-and they all were looking to Elijah for leadership! What an encouraging motivation to overcome disillusionment and depression.
Remember, somebody needs your help and leadership, too. You cannot afford to dwell in the pits of self pity and depression. You must look beyond yourself, past your problems, to God who is greater than them all. His love for you is deep and unending, and if you trust Him-if you delight yourself in Him-He will give you the desires of your heart. That is His unfaltering promise.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
A large Baptist church in Houston preaches that men cannot be expected to control themselves sexually. Thank you for preaching purity
Dear Jack and Rexella Van Impe
I enjoy your program… Please keep touching lives by staying on the air…. If we don’t stand for Jesus, the devil will have many more souls…. Fight hard, stay strong and bring it on… love ya.
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