Sunday, April 9, 2017, 8:23 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Unless You Are Born Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Zechariah 3 (NASB).
Remove Filthy Garments (vv. 1-5)
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.” Then I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments, while the angel of the Lord was standing by.
Under the Old Covenant relationship which God had with his people, the high priest is the one who entered the temple of God, and into the Holy of Holies once a year to make atonement, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He was the people’s representative to God for the salvation of their sins. Then, in the New Testament we read about God the Father sending his Son Jesus Christ to the earth to take on human flesh, and to die on a cross to take away the sins of the world. He who knew no sin became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). He took our place in taking upon himself the punishment of our sins so that we could be set free from slavery to sin and live to his righteousness.
Because Jesus died for our sins, and because he was resurrected back to life, thus, through God-given faith in him, we can now be crucified with Christ in death to sin and be resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. We can have our sins removed from our lives, like the removing of these filthy clothes, and we can be given clean clothes to wear, representing Christ’s righteousness, which is what we put on, and which is credited to our account when we believe in Jesus. We can also be given a clean headdress to wear, representing the renewing of our minds, which is the working of the Spirit of God in our hearts and lives, as we submit to the working of his grace in our lives in transforming us away from lifestyles of sin to walking in the Spirit and no longer by the flesh.
This is what it means to be “born again.” It means that we die with Christ to sin so that we might live with Christ to righteousness. It means we now walk according to the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh. And, it means we are no longer conformed to the ways (patterns) of this sinful world, but that we are transformed in the renewing of our minds by the Spirit of God. All this is the working of the Spirit of God in our lives when we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, but we have to cooperate with the Holy Spirit by submitting our lives to Christ and to his cross. But, it does not mean we will never sin again, but if we do sin, and Satan accuses us, Jesus is our defense, because he paid the price for our sins (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Ro. 12:1-2; Eph. 2:8-10; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-2:2; Gal. 2:20).
Walk in His Ways (vv. 6-7)
And the angel of the Lord admonished Joshua, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘If you will walk in My ways and if you will perform My service, then you will also govern My house and also have charge of My courts, and I will grant you free access among these who are standing here.
When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, it doesn’t end there. We aren’t saved (past) and then we live our lives, and then we go to heaven when we leave this earth. Jesus did not die on the cross to take away the sins of the world just so we could escape the ultimate punishment of sin (eternal damnation) and just so we could be with him forever when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us; and that we might walk no longer according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14).
Jesus said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity (die in our sins), but if we lose our lives (die with him to sin), we will gain eternal life with God. Paul reiterated these words when he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity). And, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we do not live by the truth (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:6).
John also said that we know that we have come to know God if we keep his commands (1 Jn. 2:3-6). He also said, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love” (2 Jn. 1:6). And, he said: “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God” (1 Jn. 3:9). In Hebrews we read: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” (Heb. 10:26-27).
When Jesus called Paul (then Saul) to the ministry of the gospel, he commissioned him to open the eyes of the blind, to turn them from darkness (sin, wickedness, lies of Satan) to light (Jesus, righteousness, truth), and from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:16-18). This is the essence of the gospel of our salvation. This is what it means to be born again, or born from above, or born of the Spirit. Yet, it is not what many are preaching today at all. Many are preaching that all you have to do is repeat some words after someone in a prayer and you are now saved, you are part of the family of God, and heaven is guaranteed you.
Yet, we must not pull only a select few scriptures out of context to make them say what we want to believe, but we must read scriptures in their context and in the context of all the teachings on salvation and forgiveness of sins to truly understand that a saved life is a life transformed of the Spirit of God out of a lifestyle of walking according to the flesh and into a lifestyle given over to Christ and to his holiness and righteousness. God’s grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). So, surrender your all to him today!
The Branch (vv. 8-10)
Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you—indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch. For behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua; on one stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave an inscription on it,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. ‘In that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree.’”
This was a prophecy concerning the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Through his death on a cross, in one day, he put sin to death, and our sin was buried with him, too. When he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, death and Satan on our behalf. By his stripes we are healed!
Jesus Christ, through his death, tore in half the veil that stood between us and God’s holy presence, and he made the way possible for every one of us to be reconciled to God. Through faith in Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit of God has now come to live within each one of us who have trusted in him, so that we can enter into God’s holy presence 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
And, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, the way to God was opened to all people of all nations so that we can now share his gospel with the people of the whole world. This is one of the reasons we are here, and it is what we should all be doing, because many people do not know Jesus, and they need to be told about him so that they can have the opportunity to believe in him.
Unless You Are Born Again
An Original Work / November 3, 2013
Based off John 3:1-21
Nicodemus came to Jesus.
He acknowledged God was with Him.
Jesus said, “You can’t see heaven
Unless you are born again.”
“How can a man be born when he’s old?
Can he enter into his mother’s womb?”
Jesus answered, “Flesh is flesh,
So of the Spirit, you must be.”
Jesus said to Nicodemus,
“You’re a teacher, and yet you don’t
Understand of what I tell you,
Because you will not believe.
“For God so loved the world that He gave
His one and His only Son for your sin.
So, whoever believes in Him
Has eternal life in heav’n.
“Light has come into the world,
But human beings love the darkness,
Because their deeds are so evil,
So in truth, they stand condemned.
“Everyone who practices evil
Fears that the Light will expose his sin.
Yet, whoever lives his life by the Light
Does so through his God.”