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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Vampire Christianity

Vampire Christianity describes the kind of person who wants the blood of Christ to pay for their sins and keep them from hell—and nothing more. Vampire Christianity seeks forgiveness from sin, but no cleansing from sin. The Vampire Christian wants nothing to do with the life of Christ, being filled with the Spirit or walking in obedience—they just want “fire insurance.” This kind of thinking does not reflect (no pun intended) biblical teaching. Perhaps we could call it “Twilight Christianity”—the kind that is not quite in the light.

God, the righteous judge, wants to give those who repent more than forgiveness and fire insurance—He wants to give new life that comes in no other way but by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by what He accomplished through shedding His blood. This happens by dying to sin in Christ, that sin would have no power over the believer. God does not intend for one who was dead in sin to be saved from sin and live like he or she is still dead in sin. This is the very issue addressed by Paul in his letter to the Romans, asking, “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Ro. 6:2).

Picture if you will a cadaver, a dead body on the slab. Everything possible can happen to that body, but what does it matter? Life in this world is no longer possible. Those who have died in Christ are dead to the world and are alive in Christ. We were dead in sin and alive to the world, but then we were enemies of God and wanted nothing to do with Him. Oswald Chambers wrote in “Biblical Ethics” that, “Sin is not wrong-doing; it is wrong-being, independence from God. God has undertaken the responsibility for its removal on the ground of redemption.” When we repent and are born again, we move from “wrong-being” to “right-being.” Why should we return to wrong-being if we are dead on the slab of the world?

Have you ever heard the expression, “turning over a new leaf?” God doesn’t turn over leaves—He creates new ones. Turn over a dead leaf and you have a dead leaf. Paul writes we are “baptized into Christ Jesus” to “walk in newness of life” (Ro. 6:3); united in the likeness of His death and resurrection (6:5); crucified with Him, no longer slaves of sin (6:6); free from sin (6:7); alive with Him (6:8); dominated by life (6:9); alive to God in Christ (6:11); alive from the dead (6:13); under grace (6:14); slaves of righteousness (6:18). The old self is dead.

Here’s what we are to know: when we believed, we were baptized/buried into His death (6:3,4); we were raised with Him in life (6:4); we were crucified with Him “that the body of sin might be done away with” (6:5); the risen Christ is a dead-no-more Christ (6:9); we are slaves to the one we obey (6:16).

Colossians 3 makes it more clear for us (which was actually written before Romans). Here Paul plainly states that if we were raised with Christ, we have died and our life is “hidden with Christ in God.” For this reason, the things that affect us on earth (fornication, uncleanliness, passion, evil desires, and covetousness) should not be affecting our dead body.

The reason why we struggle is that we live in the presence of sin. When we repent we are delivered from the penalty of sin (hell) and the power of sin (unrighteousness), but we still live in the presence of sin. We are spiritually dead to sin and need to be disciplined to make that death affective in our members, live as if sin had no power over us. Principally, it doesn’t anyway because God is the one who changes us—we just need to learn to live as changed people. He gives us grace in His cleansing and forgiveness and He gives us life. The Christian life finds its source in Christ, belongs to God and is empowered by the Spirit.

“Jesus Christ is not looking for people who want to add Him to their sin as an insurance against hell. He is not looking for people who want to apply His high moral principles to their unregenerate lives. He is not looking for those who want only to be outwardly reformed by having their old nature improved. Jesus Christ calls to Himself those who are willing to be inwardly transformed by Him, who desire an entirely new nature that is created in His own holy likeness. He calls to Himself those who are willing to die with Him in order to be raised with Him, who are willing to relinquish slavery to their sin for slavery to His righteousness. And when people come to Him on His terms, He changes their destiny from eternal death to eternal life." (John MacArthur)

“Christian” refers to one who participates in the death of Christ by faith, receives the benefits of that death (eternal life) by faith and lives the Spirit filled life by faith. There is no application of blood and continuing in a bloodless condition.

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