We make a grave error, if we think that the new creation God has made possible will automatically become ours. We gain our inheritance only as we engage in a battle of putting to death whatever is keeping the new nature from being revealed in us.
Our old mind, old man, old nature doesn’t have the capacity to inherit the kingdom of God or experience victory . It will continue to hurt forever, be angry forever, lash out forever because it is hostile to the cure and alien to the nature and power of God.
Our old man must die, if we are ever going to walk in the new.
Many Christians are like Israel wandering in the wilderness
They may be delivered from the bondage of Egypt, but they’ve yet to enter the Promised Land. Instead, they find themselves stuck in the wilderness, gazing wistfully over the border into what eludes them.
Our inability to walk in the power of God becomes painfully evident when we — who possess two natures — find ourselves living in the dominion of the old.
The apostle, Paul, was born again and set free from the bondage of sin and death, but he agonized over the two natures fighting for dominion in him, each stemming from a different source:
- The old nature emanates from the unredeemed reaches of our soul, symbolized by Israel’s bondage in Egypt. What God is trying to show us in Scripture is that even after His mighty deliverance of her from Egypt, Israel continued to carry the unredeemed reaches of her Egyptian bondage within her. The wilderness journey revealed that nature, which is unresponsive to God’s promises, refusing to submit to His words, longing for the things of Egypt instead of God’s promises becoming true . . . the same way we carry the old man in us, with its unholy appetite, wanting what it wants, despite our mighty deliverance.
- The new nature emanates from our spirit in submission to the authority of God’s Spirit. Joshua and Caleb symbolize this nature; they were the only two from that generation who made it into the Promised Land. Scripture tells us that Caleb had a different spirit and followed the Lord fully. Joshua, filled with faith and never doubting God, represents that spirit under the authority of God’s Spirit and the influence of His word . . . commissioned to bring Israel into her inheritance. The new nature brings us into the possession of God’s promises, which will elude us otherwise.
Every problem in the church, every conflict in our families, every place where we suffer defeat and humiliation is a place where we are walking in the domination of the old man, keeping our redemption incomplete.
For 40 years Israel wandered in the wilderness until the last of that unbelieving generation died out. Our old man has to die, before we can take possession of our inheritance. As long as the old nature rules, the promise of our inheritance will not become an actuality in our life.
The Old Testament frequently depicts the inheritance of God’s people, the Promised Land, as a place of rest, where Israel would dwell securely beyond the reach of her enemies.
In The New Testament, the inheritance of the saints explodes with new meaning. It is revealed as Christ in us — His very nature in us. This is the rest God has been pointing to for so long . . . the new nature, Christ’s nature . . . whole, complete and perfect in us. In that state-of-being, we dwell securely beyond the reach of our enemies.
Think of Jesus, for a moment . . . passionate and fearless as he walked in the midst of danger unafraid, facing overwhelming adversity with confidence, surrounded by enemies but never undone, always beyond their reach, solicited by temptation but never yielding.
He was tested in every way as we are, but never ceased to trust and obey God. He did this as a man, having stripped himself of every divine advantage, drawing upon the power of God the same as we can.
Did he work hard to be courageous, fearless and faithful? No. It flowed naturally and easily out of his being . . . as he rested in the provision and power of God streaming through him.
Our Promised Land is that state-of-being, in which we are victorious over everything that comes against us. The new creation never loses heart, because it has the mind of Christ. When we are in that state-of-being we automatically walk in His power, experiencing as reality every good thing He has promised us, with no effort on our part. We naturally experience forgiveness. We have compassion where we didn’t before. We perceive differently and thrill to our freedom, as our emancipation and healing become evident.
This is God’s power becoming actualized in us. This is the salvation awaiting us on the other side of the wilderness . . . more, much more.
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
During our time in the wilderness, our salvation is incomplete. Those forty years symbolize the time it takes for the old to die so that the new creation can bring us into the much more of being saved by His life.
Through the example of Israel, we are being shown that our salvation remains incomplete if we’ve only experienced God’s power for us (the death and resurrection of His Son) — but not — His power in us (His life in us.)
The church is filled with wilderness Christians who know of God’s power for them, but little of God’s power in them. . . they have yet to experience the rest of His life taking over in them.
The writer to the Hebrew believers in the first century warned that they need to be diligent to enter that rest.
For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. . . . Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.
This was written to a body of Believers not unlike ourselves . . . telling us that we need to heed the same warning, to be diligent about entering that rest so that we don’t fall. He strikes upon the disobedience of that generation, for whom God’s promise did not become a reality, because disobedience reveals that nature which is incapable of making it into the Promised Land.
It is a paradox! We must strive diligently to enter His peace . . . lest the dominion of our old man keep us from appropriating the reality of God’s promises.
We have to fight for our inheritance
The inheritance we have to fight for, the rest we must diligently strive to enter is the new creation, not heaven. The Promised Land symbolizes the new creation putting us beyond the reach of our enemies. . . it does not symbolize heaven. . . though I dare say that when we are living out of His life in us, we are breathing Heaven’s air. And when we walk as sons of God, the Kingdom is at hand.
While it’s been very popular to identify heaven as the Promised Land awaiting us on the other side of Jordon — think about it — we don’t have to be diligent about entering heaven, we don’t have to fight to lay hold of heaven. But in telling Israel’s story of how she gained her inheritance, Scripture clearly illustrates the fight for the Promised Land.
We make a grave error, if we think we are going to appropriate the promise of the new creation without a fight. That inheritance will only become ours by putting to death what is keeping the new nature from being revealed in us.
There are some things God doesn’t do for us, and this is where the battle comes. God didn’t hand over the Promised Land to Israel (and He could have). He intended, instead, that she battle for it.
By God’s design,
she would only come into the actual possession
of what He was giving her,
as she fought for it and walked it out.
This is the crucial principle determining our inheritance of the new creation. It is right there waiting for us, just like The Promised Land. But by God’s design, we only gain actual possession of what God wants to give us, as we fight for it and walk it out.
Oswald Chambers put it this way in his devotional, My Utmost for His Highest,
“The Spirit of Jesus is put into me by the Atonement, then I have to construct with patience the way of thinking that is exactly in accordance with my Lord. God will not make me think like Jesus, I have to do it myself; I have to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
This is where the battle comes . . . bringing our thought life into captivity to the obedience of Christ. God brings us the words. He moves on us by His Spirit exercising His power in us, but we have to work our salvation out with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)
Israel had two foes keeping her out of The Promised Land: the older unbelieving generation that had to die off, and the seven Canaanite nations stronger than they, who would fight to the death to keep them out.
The generation that had to die off represents our old man; the Canaanites are a picture of the alien strongholds in our soul that will never yield to God’s authority, who have to be put to death.
Woundedness, self-pity, rage, unforgiveness, the need for control, the demand for justification, judgmentalism — when God brought me out of Egypt across the wilderness to The Promised Land, these were the alien strongholds I found entrenched in me, fighting to the death the new life seeking expression in me.
Ask God to identify the Canaanite strongholds in you. When you can name them, you’ll know where your battle lies. If you’ve yet to identify them, chances are your possession of The Promised Land remains just a promise . . . having not yet become an actuality in your possession.
David and Joshua were warriors who battled to lay hold of the kingdom. Read the stories of how God directed their battles, giving them different strategies and you will get a taste of how God directs you, in divine dialogue, teaching you how to fight and win against what is sabotaging you.
God wants to give us the Promised Land. It is His immeasurable gift, our inheritance, and it is His will for us to appropriate it. But we have to fight for it and walk it out. “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours . . . “ (Deut 11:24)
It is critical that we understand where our battle lies.
Our Lord drives the Canaanite out, dispossessing the old man from hanging on. . . not us.
For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him, then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you.
That battle is the Lord’s. Our fight is to bring every thought captive to Christ. In the face of our fiercest ordeal, our battle is to believe. . . the exercise of our soul to keep itself under the influence of God’s word and spirit.
As we keep ourself under that influence, His Spirit and His word create that nature in us which naturally keeps His commandments, loving Him and holding fast to him. We become one in whom His mighty power can be seen. And what was once an elusive promise, whose fulfillment we wistfully observed in others, becomes our possession . . . the actuality of our life.
— and the promise is no longer just a potential, but an actuality in our life.
By God’s design, we leave the wilderness behind,
entering into the actual possession of His power in us,
as we fight the good fight, believing Him, and walking it out.