Fit For Engagement – Chapter 3 First Principles of the Doctrine of Christ

To live victorious lives, we must understand the application of the following seven principles to our triune nature: our spirit, soul and body. It is upon these principles that we must build our new creation life in order to fight the good fight of faith.Repentance from Dead WorksRepentance from dead works is the first principle we will consider. Dead works are our works that do not accomplish God’s purposes.God gave a clear command to Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He included a consequence of disobedience that “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17 NKJV). Adam passed this command on to Eve. The serpent deceived Eve when he asked her, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1b NKJV). In Eve’s response, she added to what God had said by saying, “God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” (Genesis 3:3b NKJV). This revealed one of the enemy’s schemes: to question God and get us thinking by using our own natural reasoning. The serpent planted doubt in Eve and curiosity about the knowledge of good and evil. She wanted that knowledge. So she bypassed God’s way and took the short cut, her way.Adam was not deceived. He made a conscious choice between the woman and God. Adam should have rebuked Eve and driven the serpent from the Garden of Eden. Had he done that, this story would have been vastly different. Instead, he also wanted that knowledge. So he partook with his wife. The result was that man fell and the serpent received legal rights on the earth. It would take God and His redemptive plan to right that wrong. In God’s plan a redeemed mankind will bring the final blow to the serpent and his minions.The beginning of death started with death in Adam and Eve’s spirits which disconnected them from enjoying God’s abiding presence. It established a self-consciousness for all mankind that put self on their heart’s throne. Only through God’s redemptive plan can man be restored back to intimacy with the God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Only through God’s redemptive plan can man enjoy His presence once again.

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One aspect of liberty is rooted in remembering what kind of person we have been. As I read God’s Word, I am always reminded of the true lost condition I was in before I met Christ. Many believers hear the Word but continue to camp around their fallen nature rather than entering into the new man in Christ. The liberty James addressed comes not only from hearing but by becoming a doer of God’s Word. The “perfect law of liberty” is located in what Christ has done for us and our response by doing His will and work. The forgetful hearer is limited in hearing the Holy Spirit in the warfare in which he finds himself engaged. Remembering what I was without Christ leads me to what I am in Christ and doing of His work and will.The Doctrine of ChristRemember that the battle is the Lord’s. His life overcame the evil one; He went to hell and took the keys of death and hell from the Prince of the Power of the air; and He was raised up and seated above every principality. A major key to our victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil is found in knowing and being thoroughly established in the doctrine of Christ, also known as “the first principles of the oracles of God.” (Hebrews 5:12a NKJV).The Doctrine of Christ is a life style that we enter into through the preaching of the Word of God and through the working power of the Holy Spirit. Together the Word and the Spirit create a new creation within us. This establishes a New Covenant with us made through the blood and crucified body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew wrote:And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”Matthew 26:26–28 NKJVThe writer of Hebrews chided the believers for not developing beyond being babes that could only receive milk. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God.” (Hebrews 5:12a NKJV). The writer’s statement is still a valid point for the body of Christ today. I dare say, most believers have not learned these principles of God’s Word, let alone apply them in their daily lives.The writer of Hebrews stated that we should “move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity,” (Hebrews 6:1 NIV). It should not be necessary to lay these foundational principles of our faith again. We build strong and mature lives upon these eternal truths when we are clear in our understanding and the truths are fundamental to a life style that we live through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.Here are the seven principles upon which we must build our new creation life in order to fight the good fight of faith:Repentance from dead worksFaith toward GodDoctrine of baptismsLaying on of handsResurrection of the deadDoctrine of eternal judgmentIn the following chapter we will examine these seven principles one by one and learn how they apply to the subject of spiritual warfare.

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Paul stated: “We have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16b KJV). He made that statement in the context of talking about the natural man verses the spiritual man: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 KJV).This book on spiritual warfare does not make sense to the natural mind. The principles given in 1 Corinthians 2:14 do not make sense to our natural reasoning. Only a person who is spiritual can judge these things and know how to apply the truths that are revealed in the Bible. The spiritual man learns by experience. He judges all things, yet he himself is not judged by any. When we have the mind of Christ there is no natural reasoning of this world that can understand our thinking. In other words, the natural man cannot instruct the spiritual man.The spiritual man is the one who has the mind of Christ which affects his thinking in godly ways. In Romans, Paul stated this line of thinking in another way:I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.Romans 12:1–2 NKJVThat was a tremendous challenge that Paul gave to those Roman believers. Those saints were living in the very center of the beast’s dominion spoken of by Daniel. In Daniel 7 we read of a vision of four beasts. The fourth beast was “dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong with huge iron teeth.” (Daniel 7:7 KJV). The fourth beast was a prophetic picture of Rome. So in God’s plan His church was birthed during the time of this fourth beast. The Romans were killing the Christians in the Colosseum. Their bodies were being thrown to animals and torn apart before the Roman citizenship. Paul was beseeching them by the mercies of God to “present” their bodies as a living sacrifice to the Lord.That was radical thinking in the midst of the spiritual warfare they faced. Paul called them not to think like the world, but to have a renewed mind for the purpose of proving what is good and acceptable, and perfect as it relates to God’s will.

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I grew up in a historical church denomination. I remember as a teenager reading in the Bible about water baptism. I knew I had been baptized as an infant and had been told that I only needed to confirm my baptism through a public declaration of my faith. I did this at age 11, but I never felt fully confirmed. As I read my Bible my attention was drawn to biblical baptism, in other words, being immersed in water. Some friends of mine attended a church that baptized through full immersion in water. At first Pastor Lewis was hesitant because he did not want to make trouble between the two denominations. I assumed he came to believe that my conviction and desire to be baptized was more important than a difference between the two churches regarding baptism. In the middle of the week he called and asked if I still wanted to be baptized. I told him I did, so the following Sunday evening I was immersed in water with the congregation looking on as witnesses. As Peter writes:There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.1 Peter 3:21 KJVSomething had changed in me; I just was not sure what it was. All I knew was I began to have more assurance of my son-ship in Christ and a deeper longing for the Lord and His Word.Through baptism our identity switches from Adam and the fleshly realm to Christ who gives us His life-giving Spirit. The Spirit of God begins to empower us daily and a whole new mindset begins to form as the transformation out of the kingdom of darkness into His wonderful light takes place. God intends that the mind of Christ becomes our way of thinking. Paul gave clear instruction in Philippians when he wrote:Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.Philippians 2:5–9 NKJVDoes that not say it all? Here we have the heart of our success over the kingdom of darkness. It is called conformity to the person of Christ. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can this transpire and become reality on earth. That is why Paul declared:“Christ in you the hope of glory.”  Colossians 1:27b NKJV

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Sin is no longer to have dominion over us. We have power and authority over temptation. Our prayers are powerful in all matters such as: praying for the souls of the unsaved, healing, deliverance, relationships, and changing the pervading cultural atmosphere around us.I remember years ago when I was just beginning to learn about the authority in Christ that I have as a believer. God gave me many opportunities to learn how to walk in faith in my new-found life in Christ. I remember praying for things like a parking space downtown, weather conditions, and the mood at work. I am grateful for the many opportunities that God gave to me to pray for the healing and deliverance in the lives of both saved and unsaved individuals. I learned to trust God for resources and in my day-by-day activities. I learned that I was responsible to pray for the souls of unsaved relatives, friends, and strangers that I would meet every day. I also learned to forgive those that hurt or mistreated me. Over time all these areas became a life style in my life which still continues to this day.Our authority over the world, the flesh, and the devil is found in Christ’s overcoming life and His indwelling power. The biblical way of entering into His kingdom purpose is found through identity with His death, burial, and resurrection as we join Him in the waters of baptism. We come to enjoy our heavenly identity in the power of His resurrected life through the power of the Holy Spirit that He promised to every believer.What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. Romans 6:1–9 NKJV

Fit For Engagement Chapter 2 continued

Sin is no longer to have dominion over us. We have power and authority over temptation. Our prayers are powerful in all matters such as: praying for the souls of the unsaved, healing, deliverance, relationships, and changing the pervading cultural atmosphere around us.I remember years ago when I was just beginning to learn about the authority in Christ that I have as a believer. God gave me many opportunities to learn how to walk in faith in my new-found life in Christ. I remember praying for things like a parking space downtown, weather conditions, and the mood at work. I am grateful for the many opportunities that God gave to me to pray for the healing and deliverance in the lives of both saved and unsaved individuals. I learned to trust God for resources and in my day-by-day activities. I learned that I was responsible to pray for the souls of unsaved relatives, friends, and strangers that I would meet every day. I also learned to forgive those that hurt or mistreated me. Over time all these areas became a life style in my life which still continues to this day.Our authority over the world, the flesh, and the devil is found in Christ’s overcoming life and His indwelling power. The biblical way of entering into His kingdom purpose is found through identity with His death, burial, and resurrection as we join Him in the waters of baptism. We come to enjoy our heavenly identity in the power of His resurrected life through the power of the Holy Spirit that He promised to every believer.What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. Romans 6:1–9 NKJV