By Jan Austin Antonsson
Jan's Journal, The Glory Road,
A Kingdom Highway
August 20, 1998
Neosho, MO 64850
Yesterday, as I was trying to print something, the computer froze up and I had to do what I call the "Hail Mary play," which is shutting off the computer at the switch, rather than shutting it down "properly." The expression is a football term, but since I don't know beans from doughnuts about football, I can't really explain it. Suffice it to say that I just borrowed the term for my own use, since I believe it means making a last ditch effort when there's nothing else left to do. I restarted the computer, and got the little nag notice that said, "This computer may not have been shut down properly the last time it was used; blah, blah, blah," (legalists are everywhere, it seems) only to find that it froze up again the next time I tried to print something. I've learned a lot about computers through necessity. So I began to think about what was different this time than the prior time I had successfully printed something. All I could think of was that I had installed the latest version of America On Line for the Macintosh, and it was after that when the printer first started to freeze up the computer. So, I called AOL tech support and they suggested that perhaps I needed a new version of the printer driver. This is the software which is the "brains" of the printer, and which interfaces between the printer and the software application from which the document was created. I thought, "Oh sure, blame someone else," for this is the common game among software and hardware people. It's never their product at fault, but the problem always belongs to someone else, or possibly to the fact that I have the audacity to own a Mac instead of a PC, which the majority of the computer world is sure is the superior operating system. Another little snag in the fabric of life.
However, on the outside chance that AOL might be right, I called the Epson tech support line and asked if they had any ideas about the problem. Sure enough, they have an updated driver for their printer. The bad news was I paid for the phone call, since they don't have an 800 number, but the good news is that the new driver is free. They gave me instructions on how to download it from the web, which I did, installed it, and viola! It works like a charm! AOL's new system simply did not work with the old driver. They were not compatible, and no matter what I did to try to twiggle it around, it froze up the computer.
What a picture this experience is of our spiritual life! Lenny has been getting rich teachings from the Spirit for the Baptist men's class, and chief among them is the lesson that we are dead to the law, and alive to Christ. (See End Note A) And if we continue to go back to the law while being married to Christ, we are, in fact, spiritual adulterers. When Lenny gets these lessons from his daily meditations with the Spirit, he tape records them. I then, transcribe them and we both edit them somewhat, to make them as clear, as grammatically acceptable and as Scripturally accurate as possible. I've been really enjoying these lessons he's getting, and have personally benefited from them. As a result of this endeavor, the Spirit has revealed at least two areas of my own life where the old man, my carnal nature was still alive and well, and trying to call the shots - trying to live by law, in other words. When we try to bring about spiritual growth and enlightenment through the law, through "human effort," as Paul calls it in Gal. 3:2, we get the same exact result as I got when trying to use new software with an old printer driver. We freeze up and can no longer function. This happens every time we try to bring about God's promises with our own hands. It cannot work. It is doomed to failure from the "getgo."
When we operate under the old driver, the law, we don't need to worry about Satan. We're doing his work for him; we're our own worst enemy. We stand accused and condemned, for the law never achieved righteousness or salvation. Paul said, "if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Gal. 2:21). Righteousness, salvation, and life came by Christ. What do we do about this old driver that's freezing up our system? The answer is really simple to understand, if not so simple to accomplish. We must reckon ourselves, (the old man, our carnal nature) dead. (Rom. 6: 11). Why? Because we will never win the battle against sin, neurosis, or addictions with our carnal mind. The old man will win every time. As Paul explains so beautifully in Romans 7:14-16, we continue to do what we know is wrong, and fail to do what we know is right. If that were not true, righteousness would have come by law, and Jesus would not have had to die. "How do I go about reckoning the old man dead?" you ask. Well, since it's a spiritual problem, we cannot do it without the Holy Spirit's help. Watchman Nee talked about it in one of his books, which I read many years ago, though I can't remember which one just now. The essence of what he said was that reckoning ourselves dead is like reconciling our bank balance. We don't have to drive down to the local branch and personally count our money to know how much is there. The bank statement tells us what we spent and how much we have left. We take by faith that this is so.
In spiritual terms, the scriptures are like our bank statement. Paul's writings are so plain. He said, "We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death He died, He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God. So, you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 6:6-11). Simply put, we are dead to sin. It no longer controls us.
To reckon ourselves dead simply means to acknowledge what is, to accept by faith what the Bible says is so, the same way we do when we read our bank statement. If the bank balance reports that we have $3.50 left at the end of the month, then we all know what will happen if we write a check for $100. It will bounce and we will be embarrassed. If we write a check for $10,000, we might find ourselves in trouble with the DA's office. And if we do it repeatedly, we will probably find ourselves in the slammer. The trouble we get into when we do not reckon ourselves dead to sin is equally terrible, for it results in our being confined, frozen, inoperative, in a spiritual and emotional prison. When we behave as though sin still has control of our lives, we are really nullifying the work of Christ, which He finished on the cross. (Jn. 19:30).
Not so long ago, the evening news had a story about a man who had died in San Francisco. Though he had no family or friends, someone found his body after several days in the hovel he called home. His body appeared emaciated and malnourished, as if he hadn't had enough to eat; his clothing was ragged; his living conditions abysmal. Apparently, there was no one in his life to question why he didn't show up anymore. Finally, after some searching into his effects, the city officials found that he had over five million dollars in a bank account, and they also found a note from him stating that the money was to be left to the city's poor and indigent population. The man was a millionaire, but he lived and died as though he were a pauper. He did not reconcile his personal and emotional bank balance accurately. When we live in the grasp of sin's deadly clutches, and get defeated over and over by the old man, accused and condemned by the law, then we are in the same boat as this unfortunate man was. We are millionaires because of what Christ did for us and freely gives us continually, yet we are living like ragged beggars. This ought not to be so. It does not need to be so.
If this describes how you have been living, my suggestion and encouragement for your life is this: go to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to "download" the new operating system in Christ. Don't worry, you will never get a busy signal with the Holy Spirit; He will never kick you off line or give you a garbled message or tell you "You've been idle too long. You have been disconnected. Please sign on again." (AOL does that sometimes). Jesus paid the price already for this free gift which is yours upon request. Ask God for the new operating system of grace to replace the old driver of law. Christ did not die so you would continue to anguish in sin. The other night, I went to sleep with a prayer on my lips regarding a family matter which was troubling me greatly. I woke up with the words "elemental spirits of the universe" running through my mind. When that happens, I know God is trying to tell me something. I looked it up. The verse is in Colossians 2:20-23, and it reads like this, "If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, 'Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch' (referring to things which all perish as they are used), according to human precepts and doctrines? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting rigor of devotion and self-abasement and severity to the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh." The Apostle goes on to say, "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." (Col. 3:1-4).
What I got for my situation out of these verses is just what I've already said. There is no need to live in want, to do without while we are actually in the midst of plenty. I have the life of Christ, and yet do I allow the elemental spirits of the universe to plague me? I have all the fulness of Christ; all the gifts of the spirit as my inheritance, (Eph. 4:8) and yet do I walk in fear? God has promised to meet all my needs through his riches in glory through Christ Jesus, (Phil. 4:19) and do I still worry? If so, why? Because I have not reckoned myself dead to the law in all my members, and in the secret places of my mind where self still sits on the throne. That's the reason Paul said "Let this mind be in you which is in Christ Jesus," (Phil. 2:5) and it's also the reason we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Rom. 12:2). Why? Because in our flesh, dwells no good thing. (Jn. 6:63; Rom. 7:18). That's nothing to worry about, by the way.
The flesh is part of the Adamic nature, which is dead, nailed to the cross, (Col. 2:14) done away with so that we now belong to Christ. (Rom. 7:4). When we were baptized, we were buried with Christ. (Col. 2:12). Everyone knows that, but I think what we forget is that when we came up from the waters of baptism, we arose in newness of life. (Rom. 6:4). The New Creation began to flow in us, and flows continually, hour by hour, minute by minute. There's no lack of God's power and grace available to us every day of our lives, in every situation no matter how tough it looks on the outside. When we look to the external situation we're in as the truth about us, rather than to the eternal Spirit, we are indeed walking after the flesh, which Paul says is death. (Rom. 8:5-6). We must see through the fleshly or temporal things which we see with our natural eyes, into the things seen only with the eyes of the spirit. The spiritual reality brings life and peace and "the eternal weight of glory," (II Cor. 4:17-18) even in the white hot center of life's fiery trials.
Let me just say this straight out. Sin is not an issue with God anymore! He dealt it the death blow eternally on the cross, (Rom. 8:2; Eph. 2:13-19) and now, it is a non-issue for him, and for us as well once our spiritual eyes are opened. The problem for us is that we have not understood that when we were born again, we really were born again! We are now God's brand new creation! (II Cor. 5:17). We are no longer the old man struggling to get by, hoping against hope to dilute the commandments to the place where we can APPEAR to keep them, which was for sure, what the Pharisees did, and for sure what some Christians still do today. You don't believe it? Then how can a Christian go to church every time the doors are open, give their tenth or whatever per cent, and take communion at the prescribed time, and still hate or despise or judge - not only their neighbor, but their brother or sister sitting in the next pew? The answer is so plain to me. These unfortunates are still operating under the old driver, the law. (Rom. 6:14). They have not asked for the new operating system of grace. (Rom. 11:6). Lashed by sin, shame and guilt themselves, they take it out on everyone else. They realize that sin still controls their lives, but rather than ask God to deal with it, it's so much easier to project it onto the guy in the next pew and then try to get that speck out of his eyes. Jesus said, "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Matt. 7:3-5). Let me assure you that once the Holy Spirit begins to show you those beams in your own eyes, you don't even notice the specks in your brother's. How can you? Isn't God's available for all? (Is. 40:5; Lk. 3:6; I Jn. 2:2). Isn't Christ the "true light that enlightens every man" coming into the world?" (Jn. 1:9). And isn't the real reason most people are tough on sin in others is that, if they can't get away with it, they don't want anyone else to? (Rom. 6:23).
No one gets away with sin, my friends. Sin simply cannot exist in the presence of a holy God, and that's why He is a consuming fire. (Heb. 12:29). Coming into His presence, we are purged of the dross, the tares, the hay, wood and stubble. (I Cor. 12:13-15). These negative aspects of our carnal nature are all consumed in the fire of His presence, and the process is glorious, being for our good and God's glory. Isaiah said, "When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness." (Isa. 26:9). Sin is no big deal to God! Christ finished the work of God in regard to the sin issue from the creation of the world. (Jn. 4:34; Heb. 4:3; Rev. 13:8). Sin is a big deal to the church, however, but this may have to do with the perceived need for control. Let me also say this plainly here, when you receive your new operating system from the Holy Spirit, and understand what it really does for you, what its function really is, you will no longer need any man to teach you, for the Spirit of God will be your teacher and lead you into all truth. (Jn. 14:26; I Jn. 2:27). You will have the mind of Christ, (I Cor. 2:16) operating in and through you. Furthermore, you will no longer need for any man to control you. Sometimes I think that the law is the leash and religion is the choke chain on this "vicious beast" we perceive as our sinful nature. The Good News through Christ is this - the beast has been neutralized. It has been defanged and declawed. It no longer has any power over you! You don't need a leash or a choke chain. You don't need a governor; you don't need a school master. (Gal. 3:24). "Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." (Rom. 10:4).
You have everything you need in Christ, for He lives in you. (Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:27). Have you ever realized what that means? You have all the fulness of God dwelling in you, (Eph. 1:22-23; 2:3). He is all in all in you. He lives in you and moves in you and you in Him. What glory! What freedom! What power is available to us through Christ. Long ago, the Prophet Zechariah said, "It's not by might; it's not by power. It's by my Spirit, saith the Lord." (Zech. 4:6).
Oh brothers and sisters, let us not live like galley slaves, chained to our beds, but let us rise up in newness of life and enjoy the gift available to us in Christ Jesus. We think we have to work for it; to be worthy of it; to attain it by our own means. Don't you see that at the root of this heresy is the need to take credit for our own goodness? Give it up. Our righteousness is as filthy rags. (Is. 64:6). That's OK, we don't need to try to make ourselves righteous for God to do what He is going to do in us. God is able to do all His pleasure without any help from us. (Is. 46:10). He will do it for His holy name's sake. (Ezek. 36:22).
God gave me the perfect illustration of this great spiritual truth. The other morning, I looked outside and saw a beautiful monarch butterfly on the patio, gently moving its wings. Now, when this lovely creature is in caterpillar form, it's pretty ugly, at least to my eyes. When we were kids, we would shriek, "Eeek, a worm," before we understood what the little critter's destiny really was. And isn't that what we still say when we look at our flesh, our old man, our Adam nature? "Eeek, such a worm am I, a miserable sinner, yukky!" But look instead, for the miracle, for the transformation. In God's time, the chrysalis begins to crack; the prison bars break away; the shackles fall off, and like the butterfly, the new creation of God in us comes forth, fully formed, wings in place and fully operational. We will be able to soar in the heavenlies with Christ, and to accomplish that for which we were chosen before the foundations of the world. Of Christ, Paul wrote, "Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." (Eph. 2:10; II Tim. 1:9). When God cracks open the cocoon of flesh which has encapsulated us, we will be a fully formed son of God, manifested in the immortal flesh of the last Adam, "the quickening spirit," (I Cor. 15:45) who is Christ, and we will go forth into creation and do that for which it longs, and groans, and waits to see revealed. See Rom. 8:19-23. In fact, that verse is so glorious, I'm going to include it here so you won't have to look it up. "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." Lord haste the day!
Jan Austin Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 S. Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
Dead To The Law, Part I
Dead to The Law, Part II
The Glory Road
We would enjoy hearing from you!
Last edited on 11/07/08.