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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

God's Supreme Interest in Man # 10

Well, that is the activity and the energy of the Holy Spirit, and that is all I am going to say at the moment about that, except that the Holy Spirit always keeps the end in view.

Now if you look at your Bible, both in the Old and in the New Testament, you will find that right early in the experience of God's people, He brings the far horizon of the end forward and governs the first movements with what it is "unto." For instance, when Israel crossed the Red Sea and was on the other side, with Pharaoh's armies engulfed in the Red Sea, the people were mightily delivered by that very, very precise act and definite cutting off and setting apart unto God. The song of Moses, which was sung on the other side of the sea, contain something which is a present accomplished thing. "And hath brought us unto Thy holy hill, to Thy sanctuary." They were forty years away from that attainment, with all the miles that were yet ahead of them before the land could be theirs,  and all the conflicts that were going to be fought in possessing the inheritance. Nevertheless, the Word says, "IT IS DONE."

Then came the Word to Joshua to begin to possess the land which "I have given thee, every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you." IT IS YOURS. You see, the end is always in view with God. It governs everything by what the End is going to be.

Well, let that sink into us, because it is very important for us to know what it is that the Lord is doing, what He is really up to. Why all this intervening history between our being brought to Him and the consummation of the end? What is it? What is the Holy Spirit doing with us? Well, it is just this: we are being renewed. That word "renewed" which is used on several occasions is perhaps itself a little misleading. We can think of it as renewing, refreshing, and so on, but really it just means "making over again." In the Bible, the little prefix, "re," is a very significant thing. Whenever you get "re," you always know that it is a throwback to something that was. It is not now, but it is going to be. Whether it is re-demption or re-conciliation or any of the large number of "re"s, it means again. It was, but it is not now, but it is going to be again. And so here renewal means 'bringing back to the original intention, purpose, and satisfaction to God.'

Well, having said that, let us spend a few minutes upon this matter of the crisis, the crisis event in the life of the believer. "Ye put off the old man with his doings. Ye put on the new man." This is something you did: "You put off." I must remind you that again there is a picture behind the Greek words, and here it is simply the picture or figure of a man taking off his clothes. A man taking off one suit and putting it aside and taking another suit and putting it on. It is a matter of putting off, unclothing, and then putting on, clothing. This is a very simple figure, but a very effective figure of what happens in the crisis of new birth. This is just what happens when we step out of the old man into the new man. We repudiate one set of clothes, one adornment of life, and we say, "That suit no longer is befitting me; that suit no longer has a place with me. I have taken off that suit, those clothes, and put them away, never to put them on again. It is what fitted me at one time, but no longer fits." This is simple language, simple thoughts, but how real this is in taking an altogether different and other outfit, a fashion of life, and adornment. "Adorn the gospel," said the Apostle. "Put ye on the Lord Jesus." It is the same figure again, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus, and make no provision for the flesh."

Here is the crisis, this definite crisis, and that is exactly what was meant when you and I were baptized into Christ. There, in effect and in meaning, we stripped off the old garments and put them into the grave. We put them into the grave, and are done with them; we are done with the old garments of the old man. We put them off. And when we rose on the other side, we took altogether new garments: we put on the new man.

That is the meaning of our baptism, the meaning of our ceasing to acknowledge and recognize our identification with the old man. We say, "I have done with him. Just as I could discard a suit of clothes never again to wear it, I repudiate the old man, the natural man." And just as definitely as we might take another entire outfit, we rose and put on "THE NEW MAN." "Ye did this," says the Apostle. Now if you want to know why I relate that to baptism, you only have to go back in this Colossian letter to chapter two, and there it is: "In Him ye were also circumcised in a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh." "The putting off" is the same idea again, related to clothes and garments: "putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism" (verses 11, 12). So you left your clothes in the grave, you just left them in the grave. Do you see the spiritual thought in "buried with Him?" You put off - "buried with Him in baptism."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 11)

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