What is to be “transformed into the same image” of Christ? (Part 10) – How to be freed from sin and enjoy his jubilee?

[This is a summary of the previous blogs. Please look there for further explanations. Please read this slowly and prayerfully as only the Spirit can reveal this to you.] 

For man to have Christ as his possession and to have Christ possessing us is the greatest most profound aspect of our human existence. Man no longer tries to be good. He can possess God’s holiness. He can possess Christ Himself. When we open our spirits to His Spirit, we become “one Spirit with Him” (1 Cor. 6:17). Within our spirit dwells the Holy Spirit. “In whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in Spirit.” (Eph. 2:22) That is why we are the temples of God. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Cor. 6:19) We now have the Holy Spirit from God who dwells in us as Christ is within us, so what we express is his holiness. We express Christ. God makes us His sons so we express His divine life. His divine life, with its divine nature, is expressed in us. That is how we are freed from sin.

After seven times seven years, during the fiftieth year, the Pentecostal year, the children of Israel had a year of jubilee. They celebrated, as those who had sold away their possessions because of their poverty, had their possessions returned to them. The greatest possession man lost was God, and in the age of jubilee God was returned to us. He could come into man and make His home in us once more. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not our own?” (1 Cor. 6:19) We now have the Holy Spirit given to us by God as our possession; in turn we are given to God as his possession so we “are not our own”. Additionally, if a man was so poor that he sold himself to another clan member, he was to be returned to his own clan on the year of the jubilee. He was no longer in bondage. He was freed. Man had been under the bondage of sin (Rom. 6:6; 7:14) since Adam took from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We were given the knowledge of something that should have remained in the realm of God. When we took from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we knew how to separate good from evil and we became like God. “Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” (Gen. 3:22) We were given the knowledge of good and evil, but not the ability to do the good because we were made of flesh. In our flesh, we are unclean. “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” (Rom. 8:18) Sin had kept man as its slaves until Christ came because it keeps telling us that we have the ability in our flesh to do the good when we could not in our flesh. So we commit sins. We keep thinking we can when we can’t. In our own flesh, we think we all know better how to behave and live, and so we all have developed our own ways which we think are better, but are contrary to each others and to God’s holiness. This is the turmoil that the world is in. Realize that having our own ways that is apart from God, is sin. In the extreme case, we do things that are totally against God. We violate the law. In more subtle cases, we get angry at each other for what others do. They violate our sense of what is right, our good. We live according to our own ways. Collectively, every nation establishes its own culture, its own traditions of men, that others violate. This happens even in our worship of God. “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” (Mark 7:8) When we hold to the tradition of men, we live according to ourselves, what we are taught as righteousness. We no longer need God to be alive in us. If we could just follow some rules to reach God, then Christ has died for nothing. “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for nothing.” (Gal. 2:21) Realize this is the epitome of sin because righteousness is God, and when we think we are righteous, we sin.. Only the Father is righteous. “And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:19) When we live by our own ways, doing things right according to our knowledge of the law, our knowledge of what is good and evil, realize it isn’t really right. No one is good except God alone. Goodness belongs to His distinctiveness, His holiness. When we are right through the law apart from God, then Christ has died for nothing. To say we can do all things in ourselves without God is the epitome of sin. That is what sin is, us doing what we want. That is why “Whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23)

This is our condition. That is why we are enslaved to sin and under its bondage. We need to realize that sin is a law within man. After man took from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, realize sin entered within man and began to act like a natural law within. To illustrate, the law of sin is like the law of gravity. What goes up must come down. Imagine you are told to hold a book out at arms length and resist gravity. You can do it…for a little while. Because our bodies are finite, we can hold the book at arms length only until we exhaust our strength. Eventually, the law of gravity takes over and we drop the book. Fighting against sin is the same. We are told by the law to maintain the book at arms length. We can do it, for a short period of time. Because our bodies are made of the flesh, in our human lives, when we depend on our own strength, eventually the law of gravity takes over and wins. That is how we are with resisting the law of sin. Eventually, sin takes over and we fail. That is why Paul exacerbates, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24) In our flesh, we are enslaved to sin. We are sin’s held captives, sold under sin (Rom. 7:14). No matter what efforts we use, we cannot win. The more effort we use, the stronger sin becomes. There is no freedom.

That is why Christ came. He showed us a new way. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6) He showed us a way that only through Him could the power of sin be broken so we could came to the Father. He had to die for us to break the power of sin. When He died for us, the righteous requirements of the law were met and God could come back into man to be his possession. He came to live within man, making a home in our hearts. He came to fill the God-shaped cavity within our earthen vessels. Realize our flesh is just an empty shell for God to fill. When God enters into man, He brings a new life into man. This life is a divine life, it is God’s life. With this life, there is a new nature that is within us—a divine nature. That is why we are new creations in Christ. Christ was the firstborn of this new creation. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Col. 1:15). We are His brothers (Rom. 8:29), carrying the same life as His Father, who is now our Father (John 20:17). This life carries within it a distinct law also. Just like a dog walks on all fours while a man walks of two legs, every life has it distinct characteristics. The divine life defies gravity. It overcomes the power of sin. It is holy.

When the Spirit enters into us, it brought its own distinct characteristics into man. It brought a new law into man. “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed me from the law of sin and of death.” (Rom. 8:2) Realize the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is a law. It is like tying helium balloons to the book. It defies gravity. We no longer require effort to hold the book up. Christ naturally holds up the book. He doesn’t fatigue because He is eternal. There is a new law within the helium balloons that resists gravity. Holiness of the divine life overcomes the power of sin. It allows us to keep His laws naturally without effort. Our burden become light as Christ holds up the book together with us when we are yoked with Him (Mat. 11:28-30). It is natural for Him to hold up the book indefinitely because He is holy and eternal. He resists the law of sin because the law in Him, his very nature, is holy and eternal. Realize we have received this divine life when we believed. “I come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Christ came so we may have God as our possession. His life is expressed out of us in abundance. As He lives out of us, we express a new nature. We are new creations where holding up the book comes naturally, without effort, because of God living within us. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” (2 Cor. 4:7)

Although it appears that we are doing it (holding up the book) today, the reality is that Christ is doing it through us. Whenever we rely on our own strength, realize we will inevitably fail. That is a law. Only the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus can do it. It is a law to God—it is his character—it is His Holiness. We cannot improve the flesh to express holiness. Holiness is distinct from the flesh. We just rest in Him and let the God of peace Himself sanctify us completely. “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 The. 5:23) He sets us apart to be holy, from our spirit, through our soul, to our body, so His divine life becomes our life. We are the earthen vessels that contain Him as our possession so what we express in our humanity is of His divinity. “…The surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” (2 Cor. 4:7) That is why when “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed me from the law of sin and of death” (Rom. 8:2), what is expressed from our bodies is the fruit of the Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23) The fruit of the Spirit is Christ. God’s character, embodied in Christ, is expressed from us naturally as a law of the Spirit of life. (For a further explanation, see the Collected Works of Watchman Nee, Vol. 49, Ch. 25 searching “Books by Watchman Nee.”)

I have deliberately not discussed how to love, how to enjoy, how to make peace, how to act patiently, how to show kindness, etc., because it is so dangerously easy to try to do these things in our flesh and not live by the Spirit within. It is the same as explaining to each other how to best hold up the book by ourselves. There are methods…but they don’t work and the book inevitably falls. That is why Christians don’t seem to change (even after many sermons week after week). We are teaching our flesh ways of improvement. What we need is to be born again with the divine life. We need to be fed with Christ in our spirits as our daily supply. The teachers among us need to express the Spirit so others are fed. Realize “Whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23). “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7) When we “walk by the Spirit,…[we] will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:16) We need to exercise our spirit by calling on Him. When we contact God within the temples of our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19), we are strengthened with power by His Spirit within our spirits (Eph. 3:16), and the reality of the divine life is there. He lives out of us. That is why we need to “Pray without ceasing”. (1 The. 5:17)

Pray that God will reveal to your spirit that sin is a law within your flesh. You can do nothing about defeating sin no matter how hard you try. Only Christ can. That is why Jesus says to us, “I am the way and the truth (reality) and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) Christ living is us is the only way to overcome sin. He is the reality of the divine nature that is living within us as the Spirit of a divine life that is distinctly of God alone. When God shows us sin is a law we can’t defeat in our flesh, we will give up trying and rest in Him. That is why there is a Sabbath of complete rest, of no labour on our part. In the fullness of time, we have come into his jubilee. This is the age of jubilee that we are living in. It has returned God to us as our possession so we could be freed from our bondage of sin. Christ Himself is our jubilee. That is the exultant joy we have in our spirits. We “…exult with joy that is unspeakable and full of glory.” (1 Pet. 1:8)

Realize this is the heart of God’s divine revelation. Man is a shell to contain and express God. When we let Him do so in us, realize we have fallen in love with God. When we can say, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42) in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, we have fallen in love with Him. Realize love is not an action. It is not laborious. When we fall in love, we don’t have a sense we are laboring but rather, we have a sense that we are enjoying. We may be doing many things for the person we love, but it is enjoyable and not laborious. When our love is returned to us, we rest in the other person. We trust them. God created us in such a remarkable way to show us an example of the way He is to us. When we love Him, the work we do/the work He does through us, is not laborious. We rest in Him as Christ has freed us from sin and God has returned to us as our possession. He is holding the book for us. We have become one with Him. “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:23). When we are one with Him, we are one with each other. We no longer value our own ways of righteousness. We value only Him. Christ is the only way (John 14:5). “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” (Rom. 11:36) When we love our God with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our strength and with all our minds (Luke 10:27; Deu. 6:5; Mat. 22:37; Mark 12:30), we have reached the heart of His divine revelation. This is our jubilee. When Jesus died for us, in his ascension, He brought man back up to the Father so there is no longer a separation between God and man. He brought man back to the Father for His possession. That is why He prayed, “But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” (John 17:13) When we are returned to the Father for His possession, Christ’s joy is fulfilled in us. The father welcomes home his prodigal son. Within our spirit, we have come home to God. It is time to celebrate. This is the mutual jubilee between God and man.

 

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come! And let him who hears say, Come! And let him who is thirsty come; let him who wills take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17 – Recovery version)

Come home and enjoy His jubilee!

 

[Although I have quoted many scriptures here, it still will not be of significance to you until you use your spirit to contact His Spirit. Scripture is God-breathed. To receive the divine life, you have to breathe Him in. Understanding, within our flesh apart from God, is nothing. Understanding with God is jubilee.] 

 

 

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