Keeping The Eternal Covenant: Part V

A Walk Through Life

You have repented, and you are born again. It is a one-time event. However, it is not the end of your journey on the road to salvation. Your pilgrimage up this new road on which you now find yourself is a lifelong expedition called sanctification. Your walk of sanctification is the way you live and conduct yourself for the rest of your time on earth. It is an ongoing process that begins at the moment following repentance. The apostle Paul wrote:

Therefore we have been buried with Him [Jesus] through baptism into death [you have repented and crucified the flesh, i.e., made a blood covenant], so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life [to walk in newness of life is to walk the walk of sanctification]. (Romans 6:4) [Note: Remember that death and new life (resurrection) are major characteristics of blood covenant.]

Your walk of sanctification is a journey into self-sacrifice. Paul described it as a putting to death of the deeds of the body, that is, the flesh. In other words, to refuse every temptation to sin.

9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit [you are no longer fleshly, you are a new spiritual person], if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you [if you repented, that is, died the covenant-making death, you have received the Holy Spirit]. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ [someone who has not repented], he does not belong to Him.

10 If Christ is in you [that is, if you are in blood covenant with Christ], though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit [you have received a new spiritual life] is alive because of righteousness.

11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. [Did you know that physical healing is part of your blood covenant with Jesus Christ? See Curses, Blessings & Discipline — Part II.]

12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation [you made an oath to keep the blood covenant], not to the flesh [to follow the temptations to sin], to live according to the flesh—

13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die [if your behavior is directed by the flesh]; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body [resisting temptation],you will live [you have a new eternal life]. 

14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:9-14)

 Sanctification is the way to eternal life as Paul declared:

21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed [your former manner of life in the flesh]? For the outcome of those things is death.

22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God [you have crucified your flesh and made blood covenant with Jesus Christ], you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. (Romans 6:21-23)

You fulfill the requirement of the Law when you walk the walk of sanctification.

3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,

4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit [to be led by the Spirit, i.e., to obey the Spirit, is to walk the walk of sanctification].(Romans 8:3-4)

The requirement of the Law is to keep it. The way it is kept it is by obeying the leading (teaching, guidance and instruction) of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit leads us to put to death the deeds of the body, the flesh. This is sanctification, and as you see in verse four, sanctification is a walk. That is, it is a way of living your life. Since sanctification leads to eternal life, you could correctly say that sanctification is a life walk. It is a walk into life and a walk for life. It is a life-long walk.

John said it was a walk of love.

And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments [keeping the commandments is a walk, not a one-time event]. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it [behave according to the commandments]. (2 John 1:6)

To walk in love is a covenant walk. It is a way of life. It is the walk of sanctification.

Walking According To The Spirit

Hearing what the Holy Spirit says to you and then doing it is the simple definition of walking in the Spirit. When He says you should not do that thing which you are being tempted to do, and you obey by not doing it … that is walking in sanctification. Instructions such as those are not to be followed once, or whenever you feel like it, or even most of the time … they are to be followed all of the time. That means throughout the entire day, not only during your morning prayer time. There is no preset time period for walking according to the Spirit. It’s not like the idea that you need to walk according to the Spirit until you reach a certain level of spiritual maturity and then your walk of sanctification is over. Not at all. Following repentance, you are to walk according to the Spirit for the rest of your life. Paul speaks of this in his letter to the Philippians, which he wrote approximately twenty-five years after his conversion experience on the road to Damascus and just six years before being executed in Rome.

For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God  [our greatest act of worship is obedience to the Spirit] and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh [that is, we don’t rely on or obey the flesh], although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more. (Philippians 3:3-4)

Paul says that he has more reason than anyone to trust in and follow the flesh. However, he goes on to say that all the fleshly things he once valued are now worth nothing.

7 But whatever things were gain to me [the things of his former manner of life in the flesh], those things I have counted as loss [worth being done away with, crucified] for the sake of [his blood covenant relationship with] Christ.

8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing [being in covenant with] Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things [all the fleshly things shown to him by the Holy Spirit], and count them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, … (Philippians 3:7-8)

Paul tells us that he is walking the walk of sanctification which is at the leading of the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, the things he once valued he now classifies as rubbish, and rubbish is readily discarded. He continues to explain why he undergoes the process of sanctification.

9and may be found in [covenant with] Him [Jesus], not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law [not by working in the flesh to obey the Law], but that which is through faith [obedience] in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith [obediently walking in sanctification by obeying the Holy Spirit],

10 that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings [putting to death the flesh as Jesus did], being conformed to His death [by crucifying the flesh];

11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead [obtain eternal life through sanctification]. (Philippians 3:9-11)

Then Paul makes this startling statement:

12 Not that I have already attained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on [continuing to walk in sanctification]  in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,

14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

Paul says in verse 12 that he is pressing on in order to lay hold of that which he was laid hold of by Christ. Why did Christ lay hold of him, and you and me? It was and is that Paul and all believers would be sanctified in truth. Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth” (John 17:17a) and also, “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they themselves may be sanctified in truth.” (John 17:19) God’s written word is truth (John 17:17b) and so is the word spoken to us by the Holy Spirit. The way of truth is always contrary to the way of flesh. When we obey the truth, we are denying (putting to death) the flesh. We are walking the walk of sanctification. One easily gets the impression that Paul is committed to walking in sanctification for as long as he is alive on planet earth. Should we set any less of a goal for ourselves?

The Requirement Of The Law Fulfilled

The requirement of the Old Testament Law (see Romans 8:4 above) is to do it.

“So you shall keep My commandments, and do them; I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 22:31)

That is, you are to obey the laws, commandments, ordinances and statutes. That means not just a few, but  all of them.

10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

11 For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. (James 2:10)

If you break one commandment, you have broken the whole Law. It is only necessary to rob one convenience store to become a thief. However, Romans 8:4 says that: “the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” What a wonderful discovery! God’s requirement that you keep all of His commandments is actually fulfilled, i.e., you are living a new life, when you live your life in obedience to the Holy Spirit. That is, when you repent and walk the walk of sanctification by putting to death the deeds of the flesh. No wonder Paul would declare in Romans 8:14, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” Salvation comes through sanctification, and sanctification comes by the work of the Holy Spirit.

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification BY THE SPIRIT and faith [obedience] in the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

And Paul wrote to the Romans: “For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body [meaning the flesh], you will live.” (Romans 8:13)

The Holy Spirit leads you as follows:

  1. To put to death the deeds of the body (the flesh).
  2. To salvation through sanctification.

However, both activities lead to eternal life. Therefore, putting to death the deeds of the flesh and walking in sanctification are in fact the same activity.

Confession And Forgiveness

The idea that you are to keep ALL of the commandments is clearly an impossibility. Only one person has ever done it. I am speaking of course of Jesus Christ, and He is the only person who ever will. “What hope is there for me,” you may rightly ask? You have no hope at all EXCEPT that God has provided for confession and forgiveness. Let me say that another way. You have no hope of walking perfectly in sanctification, and thereby keeping the covenant you made with Jesus, were it not for confession of sin and forgiveness of transgressions against you. David, the psalmist, learned about the power of confession.

1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!

2 How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!

3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long.

4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.

5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah. (Psalm 32:1-10)

The one whose transgression is forgiven is blessed. Since blessings are a covenant reward for obedience, the one who is blessed is the one who is in covenant with the Lord. David learned that unless he confessed his sin there would be no forgiveness. He also learned that life was not pleasant while he was concealing his sin from God.

Confession of sin is part of the covenant. That means God knew there would have to be a provision to counteract our certain unintentional failures. If you desire to be a covenant keeper, you simply must develop a lifestyle of confessing sin and forgiving transgressions.

I am aware that a discussion of confession and forgiveness was included in the previous article. However, I want to address this subject further, because the fact that every repentant believer is doomed to fall short of the requirement of the Law has become a stumbling block for many believers. It has led to the false doctrine of carnal Christianity.

The inevitability of sinning by repentant believers has led many to adopt the idea that sinning is a normal and natural activity for believers. The rationale goes something like this: “You know you’re going to sin, God knows you’re going to sin, so don’t be surprised by it and don’t feel guilty because of it. Just accept sinning as a normal part of being a believer. In time, you’ll mature in your faith, and little by little some of your pet sins will disappear.” In other words, it is alright for you to continue to live a carnal life and still be a believer. That may sound like an appealing idea except for one thing … it isn’t Biblical. We are not to commit intentional sin after we are born again. The reason I can make that claim is that immediately following repentance, we receive a new, righteous nature in place of the old sinful nature. For an unrepentant person, intentionally obeying God is an act that is counter to their sinful nature. For a repentant believer to intentionally sin is to perform an act that is counter to their new, righteous nature. Paul dispels the idea that believers are to continue in sin (intentionally sin) in the sixth chapter of his letter to the Romans.

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?

2 May it never be! How shall we who died [the covenant-making death] to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2)

Paul continues by describing the completeness of a believer’s covenant-making death.

3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into [made covenant with] Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death [this is repentance, i.e., dying the covenant-making death as Jesus did]?

4 Therefore we have been buried [the old you has been crucified and buried] with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. [Jesus received a new life and so do you when you repent,i.e., die the covenant-making death.]

5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,

6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; (Romans 6:3-6)

Clearly, the plan is that believers should not sin. And more than that, believers are not to be sinners. That is, the whole desire of their heart is not to sin. Sin no longer reigns in their heart. Paul continues:

7 For he who has died is freed from sin.

8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,

9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master 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 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in [covenant with] Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:7-11)

In covenant jargon, verse 7 says that the one who has died the covenant-making death to join Jesus in blood covenant is no longer bound by sin and its consequence, eternal spiritual death. Verse 11 tells us that you are to recognize that as a fact, and actually believe that you are no longer bound by a sinful nature (the old man), i.e., you are no longer a sinner. Paul concludes that you should not allow yourself to continue to act as if you hadn’t been completely changed.

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,

13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness [quit allowing yourself to act the way you used to]; but [walk in sanctification] present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. (Romans 6:12-13)

And if sin does not reign in your body, it shall not be your master.

14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! (Romans 6:14-15)

Know this: You have repented and you have become a new creature. You have crucified the flesh and died with Christ. Your old sin nature has been buried with Christ. Your old sin nature no longer exists. Therefore, it can no longer reign within you. That is, unless you let it.

Know this also: Even though you try with all your might, you are going to occasionally fall short … you’re going to sin. The Good News is that unintended sin does not release you from the covenant. Also, there is a way for you to return to the fullness of blessing found in the covenant. That way is confession of your sins and forgiveness of transgressions.

The apostle Paul was confronted with this very dilemma of not acting like the new creation he had become on the road to Damascus.

14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.

15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. [He is speaking of unintentional sin.]

16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.

17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

[That pretty much sums it up. Paul seems not to be able to keep from sinning. Please note that his sins are not intended, and they are not agreeable to him. On the basis of these two things he concludes that there is something at work that takes him by surprise.]

18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.

20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one [you and me as well] who wants to do good.

22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,

[His whole heart and soul agrees with the Law of God.]

23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:14-25)

I hope you see how easily this failure to do what you desire to do can become a stumbling block. There seems to be a great contradiction here. You’ve repented and you’re born again. You’ve received the Holy Spirit. You have become a completely new creature, the old things are gone and new things have come. It seems as if you ought to live your life as the new person you have become, and desiring not to sin, you would not, because you are not a sinful person. However, that is not the case. Every believer has been at the same place as Paul.

The question is, if you are a new creature, how can sin abide within you. Haven’t all things become new? Then what remains of sin? Three verses will help us answer this question.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)

But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. (Romans 7:20)

This is the problem: Paul says that he (the old Paul) has been crucified with Christ and the old Paul no longer lives. Later in the same letter to the Galatians he claims that he along with all who have crucified the flesh have also crucified the passions and desires of the flesh. But in Romans 7:20 he seems to contradict those ideas when he says that sin dwells in him.

The flesh, along with its passions and desires, is dead in every believer, because every believer is in covenant with Jesus Christ. That which is dead cannot also be alive. When we enter covenant with Jesus, the old self dies and a new person is born.

Therefore if anyone is in [covenant with] Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

How can the above verse be reconciled with Paul’s claim that sin continues to dwell in him when he has also claims that he has crucified the flesh, has died and been buried with Christ, and has newness of life in the likeness of Christ’s own resurrection?

When you crucify your old sin nature by making covenant with Christ, it is no longer part of you, and it is not the focus of your attention. You just aren’t worried about it any more. The one thing not destroyed in the crucifixion of the old self is your memory. You never forget the perceived pleasure of your former lusts and passions. Just a little prodding and you, the born again believer, might act out in ways similar to the time of your past life in sin. Not because a particle of past sins remains, but because you remember all of your past sins all too well. They are all quite familiar to you. So familiar, in fact, that you can be fooled into believing they are still present in your new self.

Satan believes he can use your memory of your past sinful pleasures to trick you into sinning. Thus, he tempts you with the things with which he formerly ensnared you … things you thought you enjoyed. And sometimes you are tricked by this strategy. Things like anger, sexual prowess, greed and selfish manipulation are just too familiar to you. They are too easily followed if you are not on the alert. Often before you can stop it, you might lash out with angry words against a coworker, or check out that old pornography site you used to look at, but these are failings, not your state of being. Paul confesses of being plagued by this very thing in Romans 7:14-25 quoted above.

That you cannot be partially dead is indisputable. So when you make covenant with Jesus, you must be completely dead or you are not dead at all.

15 For this reason He [Jesus] is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called [those who have repented] may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

16 For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it.

17 For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. [It is never in force if the one who made the covenant did not die.] (Hebrews 9:15-17)

If you have not died, you are not in covenant. You must die as completely as Jesus did if you want to receive His new life. Jesus died a covenant-making death, and when you do the same, you join Him, not only in His death, but also in His resurrection to His eternal life. That is what it is to be born again.

There is nothing in this salvation that even makes the slightest suggestion that a born again person remains in bondage to sin. “Sin shall not be master over you,” said Paul in Romans 6:14. Mastery over sin is not an idea Paul dreamed up. Listen to God speaking to Cain after he murdered his brother.

If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:7)

If you claim to be a believer in and follower of Jesus Christ, yet still have sin as your master, you are not born again. Jesus said you cannot serve two masters. You cannot be in two opposing covenants at the same time.

When you are born again, you are made new … completely new. However, the one thing that is not lost is your memory of how great a love you had for the so-called pleasures of sin. If you did not remember your sins, you also would be unable to recognize the greatness of your salvation, or even that you had been saved at all. Retaining your memory is a good thing, but it is also the source of the problem. However, this problem is actually a blessing for repentant believers. Were it not for your memory of past sin, and were it not that Satan will always try to tempt you through those memories, you would not have an opportunity to put to death the deeds of the body (the walk of sanctification) and enter the fulness of eternal life.

Conclusion

Three things are important to remember.

  1. Repentance is the way you become born again.
  2. Sanctification is a lifetime walk into eternal life.
  3. Confession and forgiveness are not merely acts performed by believers, but a believer’s way of life. In this way, believers remain steadfast in their advances into holiness.

With this we conclude the important review of entering the eternal covenant through repentance and keeping the eternal covenant through sanctification. Our next area of concentration will be to examine the means through which the covenant is mediated. Governance of the covenant is achieved through a system of justice called the Righteous Judgment Of God. I hope you come along for this important and exciting study.

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