Putting Off, Putting On, for New Jerusalem

We follow the Lord Jesus on the path to New Jerusalem by applying His death as we deny ourself, so that all our natural life is terminated. This opens the door for the divine life, the eternal life, the life we received in regeneration, the life of New Jerusalem, to spread in us and to be magnified in our living (Phil. 1:20-21).

New JerusalemThe exchange of the natural and divine living is presented in Ephesians 4:22-24. “That you put off, as regards your former manner of life, the old man…and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new man, which was created according to God in righteousness and holiness of the reality.”

Galatians 2:20 also shows this putting off and putting on: “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith…” This living one with Christ in me is the life of the new man and of New Jerusalem.

“It is no longer I who live” is because “I am crucified with Christ” and by the Spirit I am applying this every day. This is putting off the old living. This is to deny self and bear the cross daily. “Christ lives in me” to impart the resurrection power for this denying.

“I now live in faith.” This is putting on the new man who ultimately becomes New Jerusalem.

Through the Cross, Looking to Jesus

The Lord desires to constantly apply His death to our natural life so that His resurrection life may be manifested. “We who are alive are always being delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake that the life of Jesus also may be manifested” (2 Cor. 4:11). This is our path to New Jerusalem, the consummate manifestation of the life of Jesus.

New JerusalemOn one hand “we are being delivered unto death.” On the other hand, we have to deny our soul life and bear our cross. We cannot do this ourselves. We need to be empowered by Him.

“Let us…run with endurance the race which is set before us, looking away unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross” (Heb. 12:1-2).

We need the endurance of Jesus, so that we may reach the joy set before us, a joy which culminates in New Jerusalem. Thus, we look to HIm. This is similar to the first part of Romans 5. Being justified “we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” Standing in grace, equal to looking away to Jesus, brings forth many virtues including endurance.

A related verse is 2 Thessalonians 3:5, “The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the endurance of Christ.” When our hearts are loving God we have endurance, but we are not the source. It is “the endurance of Christ.” He brings us through all the killing of our natural man into the reality of the new man, which becomes New Jerusalem.

Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (8)

New JerusalemThe Lord Jesus denied himself, living the Father’s life on earth and finally going through death and entering into resurrection.

We follow Him on this path to New Jerusalem by denying ourself to apply His death to all our natural life so that His eternal life can flourish in us.

To deny the self requires constant exercise. Even toward the end of Paul’s Christian life, he was exercised to gain and know more of Christ and to be conformed to His death. The enabler for this lifelong exercise is “the power of His resurrection.”

 With Christ, the sufferings and death came first, followed by the resurrection; with us, the power of His resurrection comes first, followed by the participation in His sufferings and conformity to His death. We first receive the power of His resurrection; then by this power we are enabled to participate in His sufferings and live a crucified life in conformity to His death.*

Lord Jesus, keep me daily in the power of Your resurrection so that I may be conformed to Your death.

The conformity to the death of Christ (Phil. 3:10) is followed by the longing for the participation in the resurrection at the Lord’s return (3:11). This will bring our entire being—spirit, soul, and body—into resurrection to participate in the kingdom age and onward to New Jerusalem. To reach this goal requires our cooperation, our pursuing (3:12-14).

Part of footnote 3 on Phil. 3:10 in the Recovery Version NT, footnotes written by Witness Lee.

Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (7)

The Lord Jesus told us to deny ourself, take up our cross, and lose our soul life for His sake. Such denying, taking up, and losing is a continual part of our Christian life, applying the once-for-all death of Christ on the cross to our old man. In this way we put on the reality of the one new man created on the cross as we advance to New Jerusalem.

“For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil 3:3). This circumcision is not in the flesh as practiced by the Jews; rather, we “were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ” (Col. 2:11).

New Jerusalem“The circumcision of Christ” is His once-for-all death on the cross, made available to us by the Spirit, and applied by us daily. Whenever we boast in ourselves or have confidence in ourselves, we have strayed from the cross and from the path to New Jerusalem.

Boasting in Christ Jesus and denying self-confidence is a continual exercise. This exercise is also seen in Paul’s desire to gain Christ and be found in Him “to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:8-10).

Before we reach New Jerusalem we need the Lord and His resurrection power through sufferings to conform us to “His death”!

Death & Resurrection unto New Jerusalem

The Lord Jesus asks us to deny ourself, take up our cross daily, and lose our soul life. This is our path to New Jerusalem but it seems quite negative. But remember, the Lord’s death is followed by resurrection. The Lord’s death applied in us is followed by His resurrection applied in us.

New Jerusalem is a city of resurrection, not a city of our natural life. Our natural life must be denied so that resurrection life can spring forth.

New JerusalemDeath and resurrection was the life of the Lord Jesus and today it is our life. Second Corinthians 4 speaks of this. Verse 10: “Always bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”

Verse 11: “We who are alive are always being delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

When the Lord returns, we will experience the redemption of our mortal body. Until then we bear, not an ordinary death, but “the putting to death of Jesus” that the resurrection life may be manifested. This manifestation will continue eternally in New Jerusalem.

Verse 12 says that death operates in us. This is our experience of the cross. Verses 13-14 say we have a spirit of faith, “knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus.” This coming experience of resurrection brings us into the manifestation of the kingdom and then to New Jerusalem.

Photo by David Goodrich, courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Deny the Self for New Jerusalem (5)

In Matthew, Mark, and Luke the Lord told us to deny our self, take up our cross, and lose our soul life. In John He presented Himself as a pattern of this denying. The immediate goal of these actions is to follow Him and to be His disciple.

New JerusalemThe broader goal, shown in His speaking following this subject, is His second coming, His glory, and His kingdom. If we follow Him in denying and losing, we will participate in these blessings on our way to New Jerusalem.

The Lord is our pattern. In John 5:30 He told us, “I do not seek My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.”

In John 6:38 He said, “I have come down from heaven not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.” To deny ourself is to deny our own will, to not seek or do what we want.

In John 7 He said, “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of Him who sent Him, this One is true, and unrighteousness is not in Him.” And in John 8, “I do not seek My glory.” He denied Himself by not seeking anything by Himself or for Himself.

To follow the Lord, we cannot seek our glory, our prestige, our fame. We are only earthen vessels to express the Lord, with New Jerusalem as the ultimate vessel of glory.

 

Deny the Self for New Jerusalem (3)

Recent posts show us the narrow way of the cross in Matthew, Mark, and Luke to New Jerusalem. The Lord tells us that we must deny ourself, take up our cross, and hate and lose our soul life. To lose our soul life is to allow the eternal life to spread, to grow in us. Apart from this we are not qualified for New Jerusalem.

New JerusalemThe Lord set the pattern. He told us in John 10, “I have come that they may have life and may have it abundantly. I am the good Shepherd; the good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”

Jesus denied His soul life throughout His ministry and laid it down in death, so that He could release the divine life abundantly to us.

The laying down of soul life for releasing divine life applies to us also. “In this we know love, that He laid down His [soul] life on our behalf, and we ought to lay down our [soul] lives on behalf of the brothers” (1 John 3:16).

The denying and losing is our responsibility, yet we cannot do it by ourselves. Self cannot deny self. We apply the death of Christ available in the eternal Spirit. Romans 8:13 tells us “by the Spirit you put to death…” Galatians 5 says, “Walk by the Spirit.” This is the Spirit of reality promised in John 14, which brings to us the reality of the death of Christ.

Our way to New Jerusalem is narrow, constrained by the cross, and the reality is in Spirit.


Bible verses quoted in these posts are from The Holy Bible, Recovery Version, published and © by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim CA, 2003. The New Testament of this Bible, with its outlines, footnotes, and cross-references, is at online.recoveryversion.org; this too is © by Living Stream Ministry.

Photo of Saturn’s rings and two moons courtesy of NASA.

Deny the Self for New Jerusalem (2)

Our path through the cross to New Jerusalem includes 1) the accomplishments of the Lord Jesus in His death on the cross, 2) their objective application to us through believing and baptism, and 3) our subjective experiences by denying our self, taking up our cross, and losing our soul life, our fallen natural life. The degree to which we lose our soul life is the degree to which the Lord’s eternal life can grow in us.

New JerusalemThe Lord’s word about denying our self in Luke 9 is “let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” This is not once-for-all; it is continual, throughout our Christian life until we die or until the Lord returns.

In Luke 14 the Lord gives us another unique word—we need to hate our soul life. He makes this equivalent to carrying our own cross and says that without this hating and carrying, we cannot be His disciple.

If we are not His disciples, we should not expect to be in New Jerusalem. However, He is merciful, and He will eventually discipline us to be worthy of New Jerusalem.

This is the narrow way of the cross to New Jerusalem.

Photo by R. L. Lake, courtesy of U.S. National Park Service.

Deny the Self for New Jerusalem

New JerusalemWe have, objectively, all that Christ accomplished through His death and resurrection. Now this must become our constitution by Christ increasing in us and our self decreasing.

This decrease is through our denying our self to apply, in spirit, the death of Christ to our natural being. Our denying ourself is part of our journey through the cross to New Jerusalem.

The Lord’s words about denying our self, our soul life, our natural life, are in five different chapters. In Matthew 10:38 He said, “he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” The next sentence has denying the soul life. If we do not take our cross / deny our soul life, we are not worthy of Him. How then could we be worthy to participate in New Jerusalem?

In Matthew 16 the Lord spoke again about denying the self, taking the cross, and losing the soul life. This is in the context of His building the church, his Body, which He is building by flowing out through His members, as revealed in Ephesians 4:15-16. His Body, composed of Him mingled with His believers as the members of His Body, is the forerunner of New Jerusalem.

 

Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (5)

Positionally we have all that Christ accomplished through His death and resurrection. Now it gradually becomes part of our living, expressed in our daily life. This maturing in life is a foretaste of New Jerusalem, the ultimate corporate expression of Christ.

Growth in the Christin life is a gradual process. This life is Christ Himself. As He increases and spreads in us we grow. Some verses about this progressive growth:
• “My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you.” (Gal. 4:19)
• “That He would grant you…to be strengthened…that Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith.” (Eph. 3:16-17)
• “The Head, out from whom all the Body…grows with the growth of God.” (Col. 2:19)

New JerusalemOur gradual entering into the experience of all that Christ is to us is our growth in Christian life. This is in resurrection. How does this relate to going through the cross to New Jerusalem? The answer is: for Christ to increase in us requires the decrease of our natural life.

There are three New Testament Greek words translated life in English; one indicates our physical life, one our psychological life (soul life), and one eternal life. For the increase of eternal life, the Lord instructed us to deny our self life. “Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his soul-life shall lose it; but whoever loses his soul-life for My sake shall find it” (Matt. 16:24-25).

To deny ourself is to follow the Lord; this is the key to Christian growth and is how we progress by the cross to New Jerusalem.

 

Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (4)

The Lord Jesus, by His death on the cross, terminated all negatives, redeemed God’s people, released divine life, and created one new man. The Spirit makes this real to us.

Objectively, all that Christ accomplished has become real to us. We acknowledge and accept these things (even though full comprehension comes only with Christian growth) when we believe into Him and are baptized. An example is Romans 6:3, “All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” Physically we were baptized in water but at the same time the Spirit of reality brought us into the fact of Christ’s death.

New JerusalemObjectively, positionally, we are in all that Christ has done. Yet now we need to grow into this subjectively, experientially. An illustration: a positional move from one nation to another is quick, but to fully absorb and live according to the language, food, and culture takes years.

We are in Christ and are new objectively. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (2 Cor. 5:17). Now we are growing to absorb and live out the reality of His redemption, life, and the corporate new man. Thus we gradually reach “to me to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21)—Christ lives in me and expresses His virtues out through my living.

Christ expressed in our living is the precursor of New Jerusalem. This city is not physical, it is a living composition of God in Christ in all His people. He lives in us and He lives out through us to be expressed through us; this is New Jerusalem.

 

Through the Cross to New Jerusalem (3)

New JerusalemThe death of Christ terminated, redeemed, released, and created to bring all of God’s people onto the path to New Jerusalem.

Revelation 21:21 says about New Jerusalem, “The twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was, respectively, of one pearl.” These pearls portray the wonderful achievements of Christ on the cross as our entrance into the city.*

The effectiveness of Christ’s death is eternal. Hebrews 9:14 says, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” The eternal Spirit makes His death eternally effective and applicable to us at every time. And His death purifies us to serve the living God, which service will continue in New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:3).

The Lord promised us “when He, the Spirit of reality, comes, He will guide you into all the reality” (John 16:13). In resurrection this Spirit came and is guiding us into the reality of all that Christ accomplished on the cross in order to bring us unto New Jerusalem.

Through the Spirit all that Christ accomplished is available to us. Through the eternal Spirit His redemption with the forgiveness of sins is applied to our conscience, so that our conscience can be free of condemnation. Through the Spirit the released divine life comes into us to regenerate us. “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). And the Spirit of reality makes the new man real to us. The Spirit is the reality of our path to New Jerusalem.

* Links to many posts on this are in Jesus Opened the Pearl Gates, Let’s Enter!

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