August 6 – Overcoming

August 6 – Overcoming

Colossians 3:10

“….and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3:10)

How does Christ enable us to overcome, to grow, to succeed? How does He enable us to have a pattern of success in place of the old pattern of failure? Does He displace our personalities with His? The beauty and glory of God’s victory in our humanity is that He does not by-pass or replace us. Rather, He renews our new person after the likeness of God Himself (“and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Colossians 3:10). As we shall see, this renewing work is primarily accomplished through the various means of grace that God provides, while we cooperate with Him.

But because God in us is not an impersonal resident force or influence in our lives but a person, the new life is one of delightful personal companionship. Like a good friend, His presence does wonderful things for us. He comforts us when we are discouraged. His very presence galvanizes our will when we are weak; His counsel clarifies issues when we are confused. He works within us to change our thought patterns and outside us to control our circumstances for our long-term good.

Scripture speaks of each member of the Trinity living in us. But because the agent for effecting God’s purposes in this world is the Holy Spirit, most of the teaching in the New Testament on normal Christian living focuses on the work of the Holy Spirit. The person who is in covenant relationship with God is said to have been baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ, to have been born of the Spirit, to be indwelt by the Spirit, to walk in the Spirit, to bear the fruit of the Spirit, and to have been sealed by the Spirit. Of all these analogies, the most common is the idea of being filled with the Spirit. What does this picture language mean literally?

A tank may be empty, half-full, or full, and some Bible teachers refer to the filling of the Holy Spirit almost in such material terms. But we speak of a person, not a force, much less a liquid. We are left in the realm of the figurative and still do not know what the expression means literally.

Nevertheless, Scripture does promise us a life of awareness of God’s presence. Thus, one who is filled with the Spirit may have a continuous sense of the divine presence. The expression “filled with the Spirit” would mean that the person was characterized by Godlikeness, by God’s being the predominant person or the pervasive influence in one’s life. This must have been the meaning when people in Scripture were said to be Spirit-filled (e.g., Acts 6:3). Others could watch them and tell that their lives were characterized above all else by their association with God and by the results of that association.

An automobile running under full power may nevertheless use a passing gear for an emergency. The sail of a vessel is normally full of wind, enough to get it to its destination, perhaps, but then there are times when a welcome breeze comes up and the sails billow in even greater fullness. So the normal life of the Christian may indeed be Spirit-filled, but there are times when a special power is needed for a difficult problem or opportunity. Spirit-filled believers can trust God for a fresh “filling,” a passing-gear thrust to carry them through triumphantly.

Let us return to the simple, beautiful assurance that the most wonderful Person in all the universe offers us more than doctrinal truth, more than exciting experiences; He offers us Himself in an intimate relationship that can be described adequately only as full. And when we respond to Him in uncomplicated and unreserved faith, the blessed Holy Spirit gives us, with Himself, truth that we may know all He intends us to know, fruit that we may be all He designed us to be, and gifts that we may do all He purposed for us to do. Simply stated, the new potential is for victory and growth. As we have seen, the new person in Christ has the ability to choose the right and to do so consistently. What hope! What assurance!

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