By Femi Aribisala
The new man created in Christ Jesus is a divine being.
Ladi Bada recently gave a revelation that transformed my outlook. He said if anybody abuses or criticises him, he takes it, believing God must have approved it. God either intends to use it to correct him, or to test him. For the Lord says: “(Do not) resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matthew 5:39).
This conclusion is eminently scriptural. It means, like Jesus, Ladi has resolved to learn obedience by the things he suffers. (Hebrews 5:8). God is the uncaused cause of everything. Solomon says: “The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:1). That means God determines what all men say and when they say it.
When Shimei cursed David as he made a hurried exit from Jerusalem when his son, Absalom, revolted against him, Abishai sought David’s permission to chop off Shimei’s head. But David quickly admonished him: “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” (2 Samuel 16:10).
Yes, it was Shimei doing the cursing, but David knew the physical is controlled by the spiritual. He knew that God is the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 1:8); the author of everything.
Jesus, the Equalizer
Jesus, our redeemer, does not judge us according to human standards. He says: “Do not judge according to appearance.” (John 7:24). It does not matter to him whether we are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, good-looking or ugly, from a good or bad background, God is not a respecter of persons. (Acts 10:34).
This is even more important for those who have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Paul says: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:27-28).
Jesus sees all men and women as the same. In Him, all human advantages and disadvantages are nullified. All human sins are atoned for and covered.
Indeed, Jesus went to the cross and sent us His Holy Spirit to bring about a new man. So doing, He created a completely new specie of mankind: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
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The new man of Christ: “was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24). The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus made the new man free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1). Therefore, the new man is no longer a human being. The new man created in Christ Jesus is a divine being. He is a supernatural being.
The spiritual man
The new man is exactly like Jesus right now in this world. (1 John 4:17). Although we are still flesh and blood, we are nevertheless at the same time seated spiritually with Christ in the heavenly places at the right hand of God. (Ephesians 2:6).
The advent of the Holy Spirit spells a complete change of identity. That which is born of the Spirit is no longer of the flesh. Jesus says: “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6). Paul further affirms this: “You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.” (Romans 8:9).
Therefore, Paul says: “From now on, we regard no one according to the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 5:16). Moreover, we would be wise to treat every man as we would Jesus Christ. (Colossians 3:23). Indeed, Paul goes further. He says: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17).
If we judge according to the flesh, we would either look down on others, believing we have more things going for us than they do, or we would lose heart, seeing that others have more gifts, talents, advantages, or opportunities than we have.
When we regard people from the flesh or human viewpoint, we sometimes feel threatened by them. We recognise that someone is better-looking or more intelligent, or more successful than we are. We then feel intimidated instead of being confident that Jesus has made us accepted in the Beloved of God. (Ephesians 1:6). This leads to sins of resentment, bitterness, jealousy, insecurity, or paranoia.
On the other hand, if we are the one who is more advantaged in the flesh, we can become proud and arrogant. It can lead us to boast of our background or pedigree, of our wealth and possessions, or our skills and talents. But, as Paul points out, boasting is excluded from believers by the law of faith. (Romans 3:27).
When we judge according to the flesh, we tend to be judgmental of others. We criticize them unkindly, complain about them, and are even sometimes contemptuous of them. But James warns against this:
“Don’t criticize and speak evil about each other, dear brothers. If you do, you will be fighting against God’s law of loving one another, declaring it is wrong. But your job is not to decide whether this law is right or wrong, but to obey it. Only he who made the law can rightly judge among us. He alone decides to save us or destroy. So what right do you have to judge or criticize others?” (James 4:11-12).
The great transgression
Who knows why people behave the way they do? Who knows why they think the way they think; say what they say or do what they do? Don’t presume to know. Otherwise, we can easily fall into the great transgression of presumptuous sin.
Accordingly, David pleaded with God: “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.” (Psalm 19:12-13).
Jesus warns: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2). Paul also warns: “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4).
But when we don’t judge according to the flesh, our capacity to love our neighbour increases, our tolerance and understanding of others grow. Our flexibility, tolerance, and understanding for others develop. We can then live as the brand-new creatures that Jesus fashioned and not the sinful way we used to.
The love that God commends to us believes the best about others, and hopes the best for them. It: “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7).