What would Jesus say to Bruce Jenner?

One of the biggest mistakes Christians make is demanding the world to live by a Christian standard. According to the Bible, we are all born into a fallen nature. Before I became a The_Revelation_of_Gr_Cover_for_KindleChristian, I tried to be religious, but I could not live by the perfect standard of Christ. After becoming a Christian, I didn’t do much better. My struggles didn’t improve until I learned what the Bible meant that I am a new creation, and for this reason, I am called to walk according to the Spirit. Or as the Apostle Paul put it, “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives through me.”

The truth is, a fallen nature cannot live by an eternal spiritual standard. Bruce Jenner’s gender identity crisis is not the problem – it’s a symptom. The problem is that in the flesh – or our old natural state, we are all slaves to our passions. It just happens to be that some people’s passions are socially acceptable. I don’t see Christians blowing up over a sailor that has a girl in every port. Or the countless people in the church that give in to their passions with the opposite sex. Or what about people whose God is their belly (Philippians 3:19). What about the warning of Proverbs 23:20, which tells us not to mix company with gluttons, and to put a knife to our own throat if our appetites are aroused by the foods of the glutton?

This is the very reason why Romans 2:1 says that we who judge others are condemning ourselves, for we are guilty of the same things. The truth is, we are all born in the same boat as Jenner, even though our symptoms may be different.

What is the response the church should be making? Is it to wag our fingers at someone who is clearly tormented by their inner struggles, and condemn them for making choices that they hope will meet their needs? Is this really what the Bible teaches? Or could it be that Jesus showed us how to reach starving souls?

The woman caught in adultery is one of my favorite examples of ministry. Just as we see in the church today, religious people threw this woman at Jesus’ feet and said, “This woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The law condemns her to die by stoning, what to you say?”

Why did they come to Jesus? They didn’t need His permission. The Bible says that Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but bring them into salvation. The same message is given to the church by Christ. He said, “You are not of the world, but I have called you out of the world.” This is the heart of the great commission. Jesus did not command His disciples to force the world to live like Christians. He commanded them to go out into the world, call others out of the world, and make disciples.

The world knew that Jesus lived contrary to it. This includes the religious world. They thought they were serving God, but the Bible calls them enemies of the cross. Jesus even warned that they would persecute His followers while thinking they were doing God a service. Why did religion hate Christ? Because He was full of grace and truth. Grace does not condemn sin. Grace overcomes sin with the goodness of God. This is why the Bible says that our righteousness is worthless to God, but His righteousness is a gift to us. We are righteous by becoming receivers of grace, not accomplishers of the law. In fact, the Bible says that by the deeds of the law, no one will be justified in God’s sight.

The woman in adultery is the evidence of this truth. Instead of pointing at the woman’s sins, Jesus pointed at the sins of her accusers. When He stooped down, He wrote things on the ground that began convicting them. I imagine Him writing things like, Adultery = to lust is adultery in our heart. Thievery = he that is greedy is a thief in his heart. He that covets is guilty of idolatry. One by one, Jesus exposed their hidden sins, then He stood up and said, “Let the one who is without sin be the first to cast a stone at her.”

Grace was given to the woman before the call to sin no more was issued. “Are there none to accuse you? Neither do I accuse you. Go and sin no more.”

The thieving tax collector Zacchaeus was hated by the religious community. He robbed people with the Roman tax system, was greedy, covetous, and guilty by any religious standard. Yet without pointing out a single sin, Zacchaeus was transformed by grace when He spent time with Christ. As he was filled with the love of God, he volunteered his money. “I will give half my money to the poor, and if I have robbed anyone, I will repay four times what I took.”

Ironically, the religious rich young ruler refused to part with his money in Luke 18, but the sinful scoundrel who was anti-religious eagerly gave up this world once he experienced the grace of Christ.

And we haven’t even gotten into the prostitute, Mary Magdalene, the foul mouthed fisherman named Peter, or the other thieving tax collector Matthew. Matthew and Peter both abandoned their sin without Jesus pointing out their faults. Once they saw the value of the new life of Christ, their old life suddenly looked like trash. They soon became the apostles that Jesus used to present the church of the New Covenant. Or what about Paul. He was a murderer of Christians, yet Jesus called him through grace, and the very religious Paul declared that his old life was nothing but a dung heap compared to the excellence of knowing Christ.

Another great example was the woman at the well. She was living in open sin. Her sinful reputation was so shameful that she would not go to the well to draw water until the heat of the day. The other women came for water in the cool morning and the cool of the evening, but to avoid the scornful looks and whispers of gossip, she came during the high noon time of the day. In a culture when divorce was almost unheard of, she was a five time divorcee, and was shacking up with a man who wasn’t her husband. She was the town tramp.

Just as it is with the struggles of someone like Bruce Jenner, her life was a symptom of her problem. She couldn’t fulfill the need of her soul, so she bounced from relationship to relationship. She was openly living in adultery, yet Jesus didn’t address her sin. He addressed her need. Her soul was parched and starving, and her life was a symptom of that problem. So how did Jesus address this? He focused on her need; not her lifestyle. “I can give you living water.” He explained that not only could He satisfy her soul, but this living water would become a spring of life that would flow out from her.

As He spoke, she began to recognize her need, though she still believed this need could be satisfied in her flesh. Jesus used the need of her flesh to reveal the only source of satisfaction and fulfillment; the life of the Spirit.

Are we ministering like Jesus did? Are we looking at the Bruce Jenners of the world who are trying to fulfill their need with the dry things of this life, and telling them about the living waters? Did the scorn and condemnation of religious people change the woman at the well? The religious community scolded her, and this only caused her to avoid them. Beating her over the head with the law didn’t do anything to rescue her from her sin.

The truth is that we don’t need to shove condemnation into anyone’s face. We don’t even need to tell them that they are sinners. According to Jesus, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin. That is His job; not ours. Our job is to point others to the living water. When we unveil the grace of Christ, the Spirit unveils the true need – to be rescued from a parched soul corrupted by sin – and in doing so, people are able to see the life-giving living water that is given freely as an act of God’s grace. Grace is the unearned and unearnable love of God.

Trying to chew moisture out of dead sticks only looks good because the spring of life has never been seen. To tell someone to stop trying to draw life from death sounds foolish to someone who sees this as the only hope of their soul. To tell the Jenners of this world to stop trying to find satisfaction from their passions seems foolish. It’s something that cannot be comprehended until they see life. And the church is repelling instead of drawing.

Why were sinners drawn to Christ, but religion hated Him? Why are only religious people drawn to the church, but the church repels sinners. It repels even those who are seeking answers. If sinners are repelled by the church, but were drawn to Christ, what does this tell us about the spirit of our churches?

The Bible tells us that the way of the Spirit is incomprehensible to the natural mind. Yet we are trying to force people into a way of thinking and living that cannot be lived outside of the Spirit. Instead of condemning, we should be pointing others to the living water.

Until Bruce Jenner or any other person is transformed from within, constraining them from the outside is only building frustration, and driving them away from life. We have to remember one of the basic truths of faith. No one can live until they die. When we put our trust in Christ, we were crucified with Christ, buried with Christ, and a new life was given to us as a gift of God. We are born from above, with a new spirit, which has a new nature. That nature is the only way we can live in righteousness. Bruce doesn’t have that nature. Until he does, condemnation is fruitless and we, are becoming the very people who drove the woman at the well into isolation.

Our call is to be like Christ. We should be showing the world that the Spirit is life to their parched soul, and when someone gets a glimpse of true life, their life of the flesh will become worthless. Or as Jesus said, the kingdom of God is like the man who found a treasure in a field. For the joy of obtaining that treasure, he sold everything he had to buy that field. Everything in this life becomes worthless once we discover the treasure of the Spirit. Until then, demanding someone to sell out seems foolish. Grace must come first. Until then, all affection, passion, and value will be on what cannot satisfy – the life of this world.

Let us become preachers of living water instead of condemners of parched souls.

Eddie Snipes

The Resurrected Life

Last week we looked at the promise that we were buried with Christ and our sinful nature was taken away. This leaves our flesh unemployed, but us free to pursue life in the Spirit. This week we are going to look at the life in the Spirit. Let’s begin by looking at John 12:23-25

23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.
24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
25 “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Jesus was about to face crucifixion, and He first pointed at His own life to teach that until He dies, a fruit-bearing life cannot emerge. He immediately transitions into connecting His work to our lives. You also cannot live until your life has died to the flesh. Until you die, you remain alone. If you maintain this temporal life of the flesh, you cannot live, but death remains upon you. But if you die with Christ, eternal life emerges. To understand how we died with Christ, I recommend reviewing the earlier message, The Crucified Life.

Let’s take a few moments to see how His death produced our life. Look now at Isaiah 52:13-14

13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.
14 Just as many were astonished at you, So His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men;

Who is God’s servant? According to Philippians 2, Jesus existed in the form of God, but veiled His glory and took on the form of a bondservant for the purpose of becoming obedient to death. Therefore, God has highly exalted Him.

This was foretold here in Isaiah. He will be exalted, but before that, we will be astonished at His marred appearance. Jesus will be marred more than any man. This prophecy given before Christ was speaking of his two-fold punishment. Jesus was first marred by being scourged with a cat of nine tails. This is a whip with pieces of sharp rock or other tearing material woven into the tip. It was intended to rip the flesh with each stripe. The whip would strike the back, and the punisher would yank the whip back to intentionally tear away the flesh.

This was normally the end of punishment, but Jesus was also condemned to die, so He was led away to be crucified. Condemned men were humiliated by having them carry their cross up the hill where they knew death awaited them. Because Jesus was so marred, He didn’t even have the strength to carry the cross, so a bystander was summonsed to carry it for Him.

Six inch nails were then driven through His wrists. Most translations use the word ‘hands’ but the Greek word for hands also includes the wrists. The hands didn’t have enough strength to support a human body, so crucifixion used the gap between the two bones in the wrist. It’s also one of the most painful places to be pierced.

Nails were driven between the space in the center of the feet, two to three inches behind the toes. Another agonizing place to be pierced. When someone hung from the cross, the weight pulling against their chest made breathing nearly impossible. Each labored breath required the convict to push up on the nail in their feet so they could release the pressure against their ribcage. Crucifixion was intended for maximum pain, and maximum humiliation. Knowing this makes the next passage clearer, Isaiah 53:3-6

3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 52 says that Jesus is about to be highly exalted, but before this He will be marred more than any man, and He must go through the shame of Isaiah 53. Man will hide his face from Christ. This means the people will disown Him. Everyone will turn their backs on Him. His disciples will forsake Him out of fear, and the people will turn their backs on Him out of hate.

Satan is delighting in the torment, yet God was working a magnificent plan. The very stripes being laid on Jesus’ back were creating the flow of love that would soon be offered to His enemies for redemption. His bruises were for our sins. His stripes were for our healing. His rejection was for our acceptance. During the midst of this brutal act, God was laying your iniquities upon Him, so that your sins could be put to death in Him and new life emerge. Until you die with Him, you remain dead in your sins. But when we trust in Him, we are accounted as dead indeed to sin, but alive to God. And we are promised a new life – which we receive when we put our trust in Him. Look at this amazing promise from Ezekiel 36:26-27

26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

And this is from the Old Testament! God is foretelling of the day when God will take away our stony heart of sin and give us a new heart that is tender toward God. He then takes our dead nature away, and gives us a new spirit. Not only that, but His own Spirit will also be placed within us, and we will then have perfect fellowship with God.

Your old nature based on a spirit born into sin can never have fellowship with God. But when God takes away our sin, He gives us a new spirit AND His Holy Spirit. This is why we are called the temple of God.

But wait! There’s more! God then promises to be the driving force of good in our life, so that He causes us to walk in His ways and do His will. This is why the book of Romans tells us that the Gentile Christians, those who knew nothing about the law, did by nature the things written in the law, proving that the law of God was written on their hearts.

It is only when people are taught to walk in the flesh that they begin to struggle with sin again. We are called to walk according to our new nature, then the old sins have no power. Sin is defeated in the life of the Spirit. It cannot be defeated by human effort. Nor can faith be lived through human effort. We learn to walk in new life, and then righteous living is a natural way of acting. It is by nature that you keep God’s ways. It cannot be by forcing our flesh to live by a godly standard.

The Spirit subdues the flesh to make us instruments of righteousness. The flesh cannot be the focus, for it cannot change itself. Or as the Bible says, “The body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness.” Life lived through the flesh will always produce sin. But you are not in the flesh if the Spirit of Christ is in you. Now you must learn how to walk according to your nature, and not according to the dictates of the flesh.

The resurrection of Christ is your power. Look at Romans 8:11-15

11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors– not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

It is God’s Spirit that gives life to your mortal bodies. Everything of God comes through the Spirit. One of the evidences of life is God’s Spirit transforming your outward life into an instrument of righteousness according to the inward man – a new nature born by the Spirit. You cannot make your body become a Christian. You cannot redeem your body. Until your body is changed at the resurrection, it will always be dead because of sin. Thankfully, we are given two important promises here.

Your body is constantly given life – if you are in the Spirit. Second, your body is always in sin, but you are not subject to the body – it is subject to you. The only way sin can reign over you is if you submit yourself back into the flesh.

You are given new life, and that spirit within you desires the things of God. The body desires sin, but when your mind is focused on the Spirit, you are walking by faith and God subdues your sins, God empowers you to walk in His will, and God empowers you to do His works. It is His Spirit working in you; not you working to produce good works for Him.

Sin has no power in the Spirit. It is God’s work and He blesses you for possessing His free gift of life. Let’s now look at Romans 4:23-25

23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,
24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,
25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

The resurrection is your justification. His death was the payment for your sin, and His life is the deliverance of your justification. You live because He rose. You are justified through the resurrection, not based on your own actions or merits. What must you do to please God? According to the Bible, without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith in what He has done. Faith in His works. Faith in His righteousness. Trusting in His resurrection.

When the people asked Jesus, “What must we do to work the works of God?” Jesus answered, “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom the Father has sent.” Jesus was sent, and your only work is to believe on Christ! You are saved by grace through faith, not of works. You now live by grace through faith, and not of works.

Works is God’s Spirit performing His will in you, and then He gives life to your mortal body so that you can outwardly manifest the life that is being transformed inwardly. The more your mind grows in faith, the more your outward life will both depart from sin and do the works of God.

Because of the resurrection, you have new life, and you are freed from sin. Look at Romans 6:4, 7-12

4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.

Your old nature was buried, and you now are in the new life. It is an accomplished fact, if your faith is in Christ. If you have died with Christ, you have been (past tense) freed from sin. Sin no longer has dominion over you. You are free. Death has no dominion over you, for as we looked at last week, sin and death condemned sin, but Jesus condemned sin in the flesh and nailed both our sin and the law that condemned us to the cross. You are free.

If this is true, why does sin trouble us? Why do we struggle with sin? The Bible says we are no longer under the law, because we are no longer in the flesh. We now have the law of faith and the law of righteousness. Our new nature does not need the letter of condemnation, for it desires to serve God alone.

Yet the Bible says that we can submit again under sin and the law. The Bible says, “Do you not know that whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slave whom you obey? This is true whether we are submitting to sin leading to death, or obedience leading to righteousness.

The flesh rises up and wars against your mind, demanding your submission to its desire to sin. If a child walks onto a playground and says, “I’m in charge,” what happens? If he has a strong personality, he might convince many, if not all, the children to submit to his claim of authority. But what happens if someone says, “No, you aren’t the boss?” His authority is gone. His authority is dependent upon your submission.

Now what happens if your boss comes up and says, “This is what I want you to do?” He has authority and either you do what has been commanded or there will be consequences.

Your authority comes from above, not from the earth. Your flesh is dependent upon you being convinced you must submit to its demands, but the Bible says, “No. Reckon yourself dead indeed to sin, but alive to God.”

To reckon is to account something as true. It is to believe, knowing something is certain. You have certainly died to the flesh; therefore, when you reckon that to be true, you will be stripping the flesh’s claim to authority over your mind. When you reckon yourself alive, you are putting your trust in the truth of God’s promise of life.

Let’s conclude by looking at Isaiah 54. Isaiah 52 speaks of Christ’s exaltation after He is marred more than any man. Chapter 53 explains the purpose of the crucifixion. He was wounded for your iniquities, striped for your healing, bruised for your sins, and rejected for your acceptance. Everything negative to you has been laid to His account, so that everything positive with Jesus is laid to your account. Isaiah 54 gives us a glimpse of how we now are viewed by God. Look at Isaiah 54:8-9

8 With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” Says the LORD, your Redeemer.
9 “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, So have I sworn That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.

In the Old Testament, God gave a rainbow as a symbol of His promise to never flood the entire earth again. Never again will He wipe out all life on earth because of man’s sin. This is a certainty and God cannot lie. It will always stand as a promise.

Now that the work of Christ has been completed, a new covenant of God has been given. God has sworn that once we are in Christ, He will never again be angry at us or rebuke us. Our sins are cast into the depths of the see. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. His anger was laid upon Him, so His favor could be laid upon you.

Do you believe God’s declaration of His oath of promise? It’s only found in Christ. When you put your trust in Christ, you are now under the covenant of promise, and the Bible says that we are saved from wrath through Christ.

For a moment, God hid His face. Through the law, man was under condemnation. Man could never attain to righteousness, and that is the purpose of the law. It showed how helpless we are to rise to the acceptable standard of God – which is perfection. But that moment has passed. Now we have passed from death to life, and are accounted as sons of God – both male and female. This is explained in Romans 5:1-2

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

We are all inheritors of the promise. Never again will we be under wrath if we are in Christ. That is God’s oath. This is a certainty!

Eddie Snipes 2014
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