BTC Phase 3: Lesson 1
The New Man, The Fruit & The Seal
Read about the “New Man” (Christ within) which helps us overcome the habits of the “old man” or “old nature.” This Lesson includes additional commentary about the development of the “Fruit of the Spirit,” as well as how “we of the Spirit” are known and identified.
The New Man, The Fruit, and the Seal, elements of our new identity in Christ…
Introduction: “We learned in BTC Phase 2, that Baptism has three elements, the second of which is the Baptism with the Holy Ghost bringing us The Gift which is the Spirit (Grace.) So in BTC Phase 3, we continue with more about how the Spirit can not only influence our spiritual growth, but be the basis for our nature-change from self-oriented to spiritually-minded. We will also look at our relationship to The Church, to gathering places as well as review of what we might expect in the way of growing experiences.” Ann M. Wolf
Meet the “New Man”: Let’s begin with a look at a product of Grace which is the “New Man” described in the following Scripture: “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the New Man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:23-24 (KJV)
As the verse states, this “New Man,” is fashioned after the holiness and righteousness of God and is who we wish to be with and what we aspire to be like in becoming a truly Charis-Matic soul. (“Charis” means “Gift” and “Matic” means “Motivated By”).
All Things “New”: There are many things “New” which develop within us due to our ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ. Thus, we hear expressions such as, “New Creature in Christ,” representing who we are “becoming in Christ” or referencing how we behave when directly influenced or led by the Spirit of God. For instance, as we learn to see through the lens of the Holy Spirit, we tend to speak differently than how we had before (on any topic), and that evolving tendency is referred to as “New Tongues,” (not to be confused with “speaking in tongues.”) These are all signs that the New Man is becoming operational within us, more and more each day.
As the Spirit changes our heart, our motives also evolve from self-based to love-motivated, and therefore, there is definitely a “new way” in which we begin to approach all of our choices, actions, appetites, and expressions once “Christ/Grace” has come to be the guiding Light in our lives.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)
The Old Man: A developing “spiritual nature” is of course, very different from what the “old nature” or the “old man” is like, who Scripture explains, operates within the limitations and restrictions of the flesh-based realm (A.K.A. “human nature”). Here are a few verses describing the old nature: (19) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, (20) Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, (21) Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 (KJV)
Choosing New: While the “New Man” is a product of Grace who sees through the lens of the Spirit, the “old man” is part and parcel of the “flesh,” and defers to the “fall-nature” for reasoning, justifications, and rationalizations. These two are in opposition. The “New” submits to Grace and therefore operates under the influence of the “Spirit of God” while the old nature navigates by the “spirit of man.” We cannot serve both, so we are given the choice; and as we choose God to be first in our lives each day, we also have the constancy of the Spirit to turn to which offers powerful help from the Living Word in us, to “put on the New Man” every moment.
Something Totally New: By the way, “putting on the New Man” is not just a “re-newal of something that already existed” but it is the gaining of something “New” indeed. Let’s look at our opening verse from Ephesians again:
“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the New Man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:23-24 (KJV)
The word “Renewed” is the Greek “Ananeoo” means “Another,” which points to “Having Another,” not just fixing up “the old.”
Grace is guiding us forward: So, we arrive at the Cross and enter the Body of Christ as we are; and though we are indeed “forgiven” and though we may have the Seed of the Spirit in us as of our Baptism with the Holy Ghost (2nd step of Baptism), we still have the “old nature” with us as well, along with all of its habits and rationalizations. It takes time, testing, and experience to transform the “old man baggage “into “New Man responses,” which will reflect the holiness of God.
Do you remember when we talked about the “The Baptism with Fire” (3rd aspect of Baptism/BTC 2)? Well, here it is, represented in this time of training. Following our induction into the Body of Christ, we soon find ourselves confronting many old patterns and attitudes which the Holy Ghost will bring to our attention for healing (through life experiences). So when this starts to happen, don’t panic. The Holy Spirit will give you the strength and wisdom needed to find your way through each experience or event.
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (KJV)
Where does my peace go from time to time? Before moving on, let’s elaborate a little more on the topic of growing pains…
It so happens that we do experience a greater measure of peace in life once we meet Jesus; and naturally, as a member of the Body, we hope that this peace will not often be interrupted since most of us have already gone through a lot before we finally found the Cross. So, it would be pretty accurate to say that we all want a break from trauma and drama, right?
But as we move closer to the “New Man,” we do not just tread water. In fact, it is fair to say that we will indeed face changes, some more intense than others, which will include God-guided encounters designed to teach us, test us, and make us aware of where we need to come up higher. Really? Yup. God is our Dad and He will not spare us what we need to go through in order to grow up spiritually; and for some of us, that will translate into eventually being used by Him in a ministry role. So in that case, especially, it is really important to learn to operate at a high level of maturity, not just for our sake but for the sake of all those to whom we will be sent.
When the enemy knocks, we don’t have to answer: With regard to the spirit of darkness, (not in a big hurry to lose us as a fan or as a subscriber to the old nature and its ways/wiles), let’s look at this encouraging verse of Scripture.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” James 1:2-3 (KJV)
What we learn from reading James 1:2-3, is that temptations will appear along with the reasoning of the flesh, attempting to lure us back into that familiar “old-man” realm. But our New Man is near and He is our Hope in all the Ways that God affords us by His Mercy and Grace.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (KJV)
What about our changing relationship to those around us?Next, we have the issue of how we relate to others since entering the Body of Christ or how they relate to us, something which we can learn to circumnavigate with compassion and understanding in spite of differences which may become evident over time. For instance, as our interests mature we may find less in common with people we have been spending time with. This can even happen with members of our own family since we may no longer desire to do the same things anymore, such watching certain types of TV shows or movies. We might choose a new style of clothes; maybe we won’t want to go to the same “hang-outs” or use the same language that was once common but which may no longer reflect the growing love in our heart for God and for others.
Some of us might come to feel painfully torn inside as the gap enlarges between where we are now and where we used to be; we may feel sadly distanced from some folks, even after we have consistently offered our best effort to be kind and understanding of where others might be at as different from where we find ourselves today. Some people around us may still see us as abandoning them if we have changed in any way. At other times, we may feel greatly misunderstood, labeled, marginalized, shamed, or even persecuted, all of which experiences are outside most everyone’s comfort zone.
Then there is the politics surrounding Faith these days. Wearing the T-Shirt of a communist leader might be considered cool in some school campuses but if we wear a “God T-Shirt” we could get sent home for being intolerant. Go figure. This could make anyone want to shrink from society; so what do we do? Well, once again, we can refer to the Spirit for guidance in each matter; in some cases, we may be led to be bold and in other cases, demure. But whatever we are to do, God can lead us in love.
Learning to Stand: So, you could say that we will indeed, have many opportunities to apply Mercy and Godly-Wisdom while relying on Grace. We will also develop confidence in knowing that whatever the spirit of darkness (working through people and situations) means for our destruction or distraction, God can work for our good as long as we keep choosing to be those who are “The Called according to His Purpose.”
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (KJV)
Then as we learn to “Stand” we can also reach out and help others to Stand as well:
(10) Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (11) Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]. (13) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (14) Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; Ephesians 6:10-14 (KJV)
(We will cover more of these kinds of challenges as BTC 3 continues, such as in the article about “Spiritual Warfare & Becoming an Overcomer.”)
Fruit of the Spirit: We often hear in the Body, remarks about “fruit” and “trees” or “fruit from a tree.” So, here is one of the areas where those terms apply:
As we have discussed already, we know that by maintaining contact with the Spirit within us (Grace/Holy Spirit/Greater He), we have a kind of “spiritual reference point” for our souls and minds. Then, as we continue to hold to the Holy Spirit, we will eventually be able to make the shift from perceiving and reacting through the limitations of our intellect, emotions, cultural indoctrination, etc., to consistently “seeing” through the perspective or “lens” of the Spirit of God. Our relationship with the Written Word (Bible) as well as with Spirit-Led people of God can help throughout this transition as well.
We also know that over time, this “change of natures” shows up on the outside of us as a more loving and patient person; but it is good to know that this outward expression of “maturity in the Spirit” is known as the “Fruit of the Spirit” which includes character traits such as love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance such as what we see in Galatians 5:22-25 – KJV: (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (24) And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. (25) If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
The theory here is that you don’t get bananas from an orange tree. Ok. Duh. But though it is a simple concept, it is often missed in the Body in that folks don’t always realize that they will not begin to see the “change in natures” or “fruit” of the Spirit without seeking that Spirit every day. A few hours on Sunday is simply not enough. It takes a while for fruit to develop from a tree; or in other words, it takes a period of growth and nurturing to go from the seed to the blade, to the tree, to eventually arrive at the fruit. This tree needs both Water (Mercy) and Sunshine (Grace) over a period of years to not only arrive at the fruit-bearing stage of development, but to keep producing throughout its life-span.
What does it mean, to be “Born Again? By now, have you heard that expression, “Born Again,” tossed around the Body quite a bit? Folks are quick to state that they are “Born Again,” but how many of us know what that really means?
Prior to calling ourselves “Born Again,” it might be less confusing to observers (and make more sense) if there were to first be some “Fruit of the Spirit,” evident in our behavior prior to making that claim. People would then more easily understand that being “Born Again” connects to a “state” rather than a “date.” What do I mean by that? Well, our being Born Again should bear witness to a “state of consciousness” rather than a “date on a calendar” when we happened to have said “I Do” to Jesus.
It is true, that if we experienced at least two of the parts of Baptism, then we received the Seed of Grace when the Gift of the Holy Ghost was imparted; but then what? Do we continue to identify ourselves with the moment of conception, or do we align our souls with the developmental process and continue growing.
Seriously, are we “Born Again” or really stuck at “Conceived Again” like the Corinthians that Paul had to rebuke and redirect since they had the Seed but remained carnal-minded caught up in all kinds of strife? Evidently they were not focusing on a nature-change because they showed little signs of a changed nature. (Read 1 Corinthians 3.)
Bottom line is that we should and must clear the gestation phase and have moved on to the birthing phase before proclaiming we are “Born Again.” If we in the Body of Christ actually did this, then our declaration would be coupled with behavior which would back up the words. Others would be able to see in our demeanor how that which was developing on the inside of us has become visible on the outside, and I am not talking about having re-gowned ourselves with a religious outfit over top of the same old man (just with a religious twist), but rather, folks would notice a difference in our responses which of late, would be bearing “Fruit.”
So, such as in the case of a fetus, the aim is to gestate until being born as a baby; and in the garden, the seed must grow a root, and then emerge as a Blade and so forth. When we enter the “Kingdom of Heaven” or “The Net” as new members of the Body of Christ, our goal is to grow into becoming part of the “Kingdom of God,” as we also “Become the Church,” reflecting the New Man everywhere we go.
Being religious alone, by the way, will have little to no bearing on the state of our Fruit since our Tree still has to be the Spirit in order to bear the “Fruit of the Spirit.” We will talk more about that very soon in BTC Phase 3.
“For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” Mark 4:28 (KJV)
Will others find Fruit in us?: Meanwhile, it bears repeating as often as necessary, that an authentic spiritual journey (where a relationship with Jesus Christ is concerned), involves being actively engaged in a transformation process resulting from an ongoing relationship with the Holy Spirit (Living Word). This applies to all members of the Body of Christ, regardless of how long it has been since they came to the Cross; and it still applies regardless of whether or not they are engaged in religious activities or even if they hold some kind of leadership role or organizational title in a religious group somewhere. Jesus tells us that the only way we will know someone, is by their Fruit.
In short, others should be able to find “Fruit” flowing from us, whether we are wearing holy robes or blue jeans; and even if we in the Body are all dressed up, looking “fine” in our religious outfits with our reverse collar adjusted correctly, our tunic or choir garment neatly pressed…will they know us? Even if we are walking proudly with our Holy Book tucked under our arm and our “religious jewelry” draped about our necks or dangling from our fingertips, what will be the primary way that others can know if we are involved in any “real” spiritual process (operating by the “Spirit of God”)?
Known by our Fruit: Well, here is what Jesus said: “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:16 KJV
So, even under duress or when no one is watching but God, those of us who wish to be “known by our fruits” will strive to walk in Mercy and Grace through all events as well as in the way we treat others; and this won’t just happen in religious services when emotions can be high while holding hands & singing spiritual anthems. We should be prepared to “Be the Church” and emulate “The New Man” everywhere we go, holding the daily intention of sharing the love and compassion of God with everyone we meet. Finding the motivation and strength to sustain this comes by nestling in as close to the Living Word (and Written Word) as possible, as a way of life.
Is it possible to have the Spirit or The New Man and not become spiritual in nature? Yes; as mentioned earlier in this Lesson, Paul gives us a good example of this unfortunate condition in Corinthians I & II when he addresses the behavior of members there and tells them that they have the Spirit but are not following it and hence are remaining carnal: “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” 1 Corinthians 3:3 (KJV)
Does this bring to mind the irregular behavior of some in the Body whom we have observed or even our own vacillating behavior at times? Oh yeah. It definitely happens that all of us will experience being “off our game” from time to time; but that is to be expected with any long-term healing process.
When “from the old to the new” might be news to you: In some cases, the condition that members of the Body are in could be because they have not yet been taught about The New Man along with the process of releasing “the old.” These folks might be “saved” (inducted into the Body by belief), but what if they are not even “in the game” of spiritual transformation yet because they don’t know about it?
Most entering the Body learn about getting baptized in water or get advice about joining a church somewhere. Along with that, many are immediately taught about the Old Testament tradition of paying their tithe and may even start into some kind of Bible Study, jump into the choir, volunteer in the nursery, or bring pies and cakes to the fundraisers for the building fund… and so on. All of these activities have their place, but what if these same members are not being exposed to training about “Freedom in Christ” which would take them beyond Old Covenant practices (meant for another people) to a confidence in their connection to the “Spirit within” (meant for us of the New)? They may not even know that they have “The Promise” (Christ within) or how to engage in a relationship with It. (Read Hebrews 11:39, KJV)
About Religious Cults: For that matter, we can even find extremist groups in the Body that not only avoid teaching any kind of personal relationship with the Spirit within, but they go so far as to instill fear-based dependence on their man-made organization which means that they function more like a controlling cult than a facilitator of the experience of Grace.
Fruit of which tree? Not all “churches” out there are interested in equipping members for transitioning into a spiritual-nature and if they do not, they may still have a lot to tell you about the special practice or ceremony they have, clothes they won’t wear, food or drink they won’t ever touch, or the specific day of the week they worship, etc., all of which they believe makes them better than others in the Body. So, the question becomes, does their “tree” grow “Fruit of the Holy Spirit,” or “fruit of a religious spirit?”
Are you surprised to learn all this or maybe you have already made some of these observations for yourself? Yes, there is division in the Body and sometimes this shows itself as a lack of “Fruit” (or compassion) among members, to say nothing of a lack of Unity. But until we all enter into an intimate connection with the Spirit ourselves, how can we hope to connect on that basis with others in the Body?
Yup, some of us are still creating drama, getting into flesh-based intrigues and debates about which “ism” is better, etc., all functions of the “old man.” So what do we do about this? Well, regardless of what we find in the Body, we can concentrate on cleaning up our own act while having compassion for others (understanding where they might be coming from); and we can pray for one another. We can become the example of what we hope for in others, demonstrating our understanding of the Two Commandments of Jesus and affirming our Unity via the Spirit among those who follow the Spirit.
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perservance and supplication for all saints.” Ephesians 6:18 (KJV)
Then, if we have a run-in with the “old man” in others or find ourselves under his tenacious grip from time to time, we can seek the Resurrection Power for wisdom and move forward once again. In short, we can apply Mercy and hold to Grace, over and over and over until we meet the Lord. We may have difficult days and temptations to work through, but God has our back. Amen?
One via the Spirit of God: With regard to the specifics of experiencing “Unity”… knowing that there are many people, yet One Spirit, we can each reach for Grace within ourselves and by doing this we will be able to see one another as family through the eyes of the New Man.
“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4: 3-6 (KJV)
Seal of the Spirit: Have you ever heard that expression, “It takes one to know one?” Well, to distinguish those who have begun their walk with the Holy Spirit, the Bible refers to something known as the “Seal of the Spirit,” not such that can be seen by the physical eye, but rather sensed via a kind of “inner knowing” on the part of others who have themselves, received the Gift of Grace and in particular, by those who walk by that Holy Spirit. This “seal” indicates our new identity and new ethnicity in Christ, beyond race, gender, denominations, national boundaries, and culture. It reminds us of our Unity within the Body of Christ via the common thread of the Spirit that lives in each of us.
“Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” 2 Corinthians 1:22 (KJV)
“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” Ephesians 1:13 (KJV)
Conclusion: No matter what challenges we encounter in life, the opportunity remains for all of us to keep moving forward in our relationship with The Spirit within us. In this endeavor, our faith and confidence is in God who not only led us to the Cross to begin the process of transformation, but He also gives us everything we need via the examples left for us in the life of Jesus (Mercy) along with all the signposts we find in Scriptures. Jesus also left us “Another Comforter,” which is the Resurrection Power. All of this has been granted so we can finish the race and finish lawfully, “Amazing Grace” indeed.
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” 2 Timothy 4:7 (KJV) “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” 2 Timothy 4:7 (KJV)
“The New Man, the Fruit, and the Seal” by Ann M. Wolf © 2016, All rights reserved.