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Dear Partner,

As I was in prayer about what the Lord would have me write to you this month, the phrase "Permanent Change" kept coming up in my spirit. All of us desire to be on an ever-upward journey of improvement. There are two ways that we can improve, 1) self effort, or 2) true transformation. Paul addressed the difference between these two methods in his letter to the Galatians when he said,

Gal 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

These people at Galatia were born again under Paul's ministry while he sojourned there. After Paul's departure to evangelize in other regions, a group of Judaizers from Jerusalem arrived in Galatia and began to preach "another gospel." Basically, they were preaching that it was necessary for these Gentile believers to also keep the Mosaic Law if they were to truly become God's people. Paul is refuting that false doctrine in his letter to the Galatians, and near the end of the letter he makes his concluding statement in Gal 6:15.

In modern language, Paul is saying that the whole debate is a moot point because the Law cannot save you whether you keep it or not! The only thing that matters is: Have you been born again? Have you become a "new creature?" The reason we have trouble understanding what Paul meant by that statement is that we do not have a clear understanding of what happened to us when we were born again. I believe the Amplified Bible gives us the clearest meaning of the Greek words Paul chose to use in that verse. It reads,

Gal 6:15 For neither is circumcision [now] of any importance, nor uncircumcision, but [only] a new creation [the result of a new birth and a new nature in Christ Jesus, the Messiah].

Most of us have not understood the magnitude of what happened to us when we were born again. We were not just forgiven, yet left unchanged. That is Old Testament salvation. They had no access to the new birth, for Christ had not yet been glorified. They still had the fallen nature of Adam within them. That nature is the nature of sin and death, and it could not be changed. That being the case, God gave them the Law as a moral code and the blood of sacrificed animals to make temporary atonement for their sins until Christ should come.

The only "change" available to them was their best efforts, through the energy of fallen flesh, to try to keep the Law. But at their core, their spirit still had the nature of sin and death and that nature kept them from the possibility of true transformation.

Sadly, because of the way the new birth is preached from most pulpits, most Christians today see themselves as being in the same condition as these Old Testament people. They still see themselves as having that same fallen nature [descended from Adam]. Their understanding of the gospel is that they are still the same "old creature" that has been merely forgiven. THAT IS NOT THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST! Notice Paul's statement to the Corinthian Church;

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

When you were born again, that old Adamic nature died on the cross with Christ. You were raised to "new life" by the impartation of a new spirit, a "new creature" within you spawned from the spiritual loins of the Second Man, the Last Adam, Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 15:45) One translation renders the words "a new creature" as "a new species that never existed before," and that is precisely what you are! A human clothed in mortal flesh with the very "life of Christ" imparted to your spirit. The Old Testament believers would have given anything to have been able to receive what has been given to you freely by grace.

If you do not believe that you have been given this "new nature," then you have no choice but to spend the rest of your life trying to live up to various "codes of conduct" through the energy of the flesh, that is to say, by your own best efforts through natural means. You will see yourself as still being the same old "sinner," merely forgiven now by the blood of Christ. Thank God we are forgiven, but God has done much more than that for us. He has made us "new creatures," with reborn human spirits containing within them the very "life of Christ."

Human effort, like New Year's resolutions, will bring "temporary change" for a while. But when the pressure is on, what you believe yourself to be at your core will come to the surface, and you will once more lapse into those familiar old patterns of behavior that you never wanted to repeat again.

Prov 23:7a For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.

So what brings "permanent change?" It comes by nurturing the "life" that was imparted to your spirit when you were born again until that new nature comes forward to dominate your will, your intellect and your emotions. It is not hard to "do" what you "are" by nature. When love has become your nature you love. When forgiveness has become your nature you forgive, and so forth. You no longer have to "remember" to do it, or "force yourself" to do it. You do it because "that is what you are!"

In my letters this year, I believe the Lord would have me continue to discuss these things so that we can all better enjoy the benefits of "permanent change" which proceeds from the new nature rather than forever struggling with "temporary change" through human effort.

Let me encourage you to spend even more time "in fellowship with the Lamb" through increased seasons of worship, meditation of the Word, prayer and fasting. For those who will, "His glory shall be seen upon thee."

Thank you for your gift to GCM. 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

 

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