Changed lives. That's the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Every true believer who has been touched by the love of God through faith in Jesus Christ has a testimony of how his or her life was changed forever. Unfaithful, drunken husbands become faithful, sober family men. Thieves can no longer steal because "love worketh no ill to his neighbor." Women become vessels of virtue and honor who raise up godly children upon the earth. The gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to change the vilest life to one of love, purpose and destiny. The apostle Paul declared,
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
When Israel was delivered from the power and dominion of Pharaoh in the book of Exodus, that was a type and a shadow of us being delivered from the power of darkness through the new birth in the New Testament:
Col 1:12-13 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.
But notice that even though Israel was delivered out of Egypt in a single day, it took a long time and much warfare for Israel to fully possess the "Promised Land." If Egypt is a type and a shadow of the "power of darkness," what does the Promised Land represent? The Promised Land is a type and a shadow of the "Abundant Life" that Jesus told us He had come for us to have.
John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
The point I want to make in this letter is this: The new birth is an instantaneous event that happens when a person receives Jesus into their heart, but that is the entrance into the "Abundant Life" (not the conclusion of it) and it takes time and effort to fully possess it.
I remember back to those early days after I was born again. It is amazing how many things about my life changed almost instantly. For many years I had been abusing alcohol and my life had centered on pursuing money and the things that money could buy. Within days of receiving Jesus Christ into my heart the desire for alcohol simply left me and I have never had another sip of it since. The focus of my life changed from serving money and the things it could buy to giving my life in the service of the King and His kingdom. I have never met a believer who does not have a similar testimony of many, major "changes" in their life immediately upon receiving Jesus into their heart.
Yet I (and every other believer I know) are also quick to testify that not everything that needed to change was changed overnight. For example, many people are delivered from alcohol instantaneously at the new birth, but are still chronic worriers. Others continue to have problems with envy, gossip, slander, pride, and many other such things. The list is endless. Is there a type and a shadow from the Old Testament that will shed some light upon this dilemma we experience in our dispensation? Yes, there is. God told Israel plainly not to make peace with any of the inhabitants of the Promised Land. Rather, Israel was to completely drive them out of the land. Israel was warned what would happen if they did not fully drive out the inhabitants of the land:
Num 33:55 But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.
What do these evil inhabitants of the Promised Land represent when it comes to our fully possessing the Abundant Life? Well, think about the walled, fortified cities that existed in the Promised Land such as Jericho. Each of these strongholds had to be conquered before Israel could possess the land. Does that remind you of a New Testament passage of scripture?
2 Cor 10:4-5 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
We are to pull down the "strong holds" of wrong imaginations, high things, and every thought pattern within us that stands in opposition to what our King has spoken. Notice how this passage says this process is "warfare," not something that happens automatically. What is keeping us from fully possessing and enjoying the Abundant Life that Jesus paid the price for us to have? It is wrong thinking and wrong believing that has allowed the enemies of doubt and fear to build "strongholds" within us.
The focus of my teachings recently has been on the subject of "Changing Chronic Things." All of us are thankful for the many, wonderful changes that occurred in our lives when we were first born again. But sadly, like Israel of old, most of us did not go on to fully drive out the evil inhabitants that continued to dwell in our thought life. Over time, most have simply given up and learned to live with our "selves" rather than go to war and fully posses the Abundant Life purchased for us by the blood of Jesus Christ. I'll have much more to say on this subject in the coming months. Be encouraged. God loves us too much to leave us like we are!
Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!
Your friend and co-laborer,
Gary Carpenter Ministries|
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