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Complete in Christ B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
April 5, 2022 4:00 am

Complete in Christ B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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April 5, 2022 4:00 am

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When you became a Christian, your old nature was taken away and you became a new creature with a new nature.

Now listen, any old priest or any old anybody can circumcise a man's foreskin, but only Christ can circumcise a man's heart. Think for a moment about the people and churches the Apostle Paul led. What aspect of their lives was Paul most concerned about?

Simply put, sanctification. Paul dedicated himself to helping others become more like Jesus Christ. But how exactly do you become more Christlike? Is this something God does to you, or do you play a role in your sanctification? And at the moment of salvation, do you receive everything you need to grow in Christlikeness? John MacArthur is digging into those questions in his current study here on Grace to You. It's titled, Complete in Christ.

And now with today's lesson, here's John. Here in Colossians 2 and 11 it says you are circumcised with a circumcision made without hands. You have had a special circumcision.

What is it? It is the cutting away of the body of the sins of the flesh. When you became a Christian, Christ cut away everything sinful from your life. The cutting away of the sinful things.

Now I want you to stay with me because I don't want you to extrapolate out of that until I'm done. In Romans chapter 4 and verse 11 it says, And he received the sign of circumcision, Abraham, a seal of the righteousness of faith which he had yet being uncircumcised. You know, people say, well Abraham was circumcised.

Yeah, 14 years after he believed God and was saved. So circumcision didn't save him. He was circumcised as a sign of a righteous heart. And that's the message. And what is true circumcision?

Listen to me. It is cutting away everything from the life but the will of God. And Paul's message in Colossians 2 and 11 is this. It is the spiritual surgery. The cutting away of self and sin. And only Christ can do that. I love the New International Version translation of verse 11. This is what it says, In him you were also circumcised in the putting off of your sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with a circumcision done by Christ.

What kind of circumcision? The putting off of your sinful nature. When you became a Christian, your old nature was taken away and you became a new creature with a new nature.

Okay? Now listen. Any old priest or any old anybody can circumcise a man's foreskin, but only Christ can circumcise a man's heart. And that means cut away the old sin nature.

So, Christian, he says, you don't need any rite of circumcision. You have received from Christ a spiritual surgery of which that old rite was only a picture and a symbol. You say, are you trying to tell me that when you become a Christian, God takes away the old nature? Yes, I believe that. I believe that. I believe He gives you a new nature. All new.

Brand new. And that's what he's talking about in verse 11. Look what he says. This is made without hands and what is it? Putting off the body of the sins of the flesh. You say, but wait a minute, John. If we've had our fallen nature put away, if we've put off the body of the sins of the flesh, human nature and its fallen condition, and we've got a new nature, how come we still sin, right? Fair question. The answer is this. Because you not only have a new nature, but you have an old body.

You've got a new inside and an old outside. Look with me at Romans 7. Paul says, For that which I do, I understand not. For what I would, that do I not, and what I hate, that do I.

If then I do that which I don't want to do, I consent to the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. He says, look, it is not my new nature doing this. It is the old flesh that is in me. I know, verse 18, that in me that is not in my new nature, but in my flesh dwells no good thing.

He makes a distinction. Verse 20, If I do that, I would not. It is no more I. It is not my new nature. It is sin that dwells in me. I find the law then, or principle, when I would do good, evil is present. I delight in the law of God after my inward man. He says, my new nature just loves God. My new nature wants to do all kinds of good things. My new nature wants to obey God. My new nature wants to respond to God. But I see another principle, verse 23, in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into the captivity of the law of sin which is in my what? My members. The law of God is in my what?

Mind, but sin is in my members. The new nature that is in me has been purified, but the body that it lives in is a mess. That's why when I go to heaven, I don't get a new inside, I get a what?

A new outside. If I could just get my good inside out of this bad outside, I could really go. So, he says in 21, O wretched man that I am who shall deliver me from the body of this death, I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then, with the mind I serve the law of God. My new nature is Godward, but my flesh serves the law of sin. So, he says, even in my new creation life, that new nature that's there, surrounding it is the flesh. But I believe, people, it's a new nature, all brand new.

I don't believe when you become a Christian you get kind of whitewashed. I believe you get brand new from inside from the very moment you believe. Sin is still there because of the flesh, because of the body. But the internal nature, the new heart is there. God promised I'll give them a new heart, didn't He? That's the covenant promise, the new covenant.

So when you receive Christ, that was the end of the old nature, positionally. But sin is still hanging around. But what Paul is saying here is he's not getting into the fact of sin here.

He's not dealing with that. He's simply saying, hey, you don't need anybody to get you more saved. People come along and say, well, I was saved, but later on I got more saved. No, you can't get more saved. That's like saying I was married and now I'm more married.

No, you're either married or you're not married. Same thing is true of being saved. You're not more saved, you're just either saved or not. And you do not need anything to be added to the new nature that you've been given, except to bring your behavior into harmony with your new nature. And Paul learned how to do that. He didn't know how to do it in Romans 7, but what did he do in Romans 8? He learned how to do it by doing what? If you walk in the Spirit, you will not fulfill what? The lust of the flesh. So he learned how to obey the Spirit. Now, Paul says you have new life.

It's been given you in the way that Christ circumcised your heart by taking away the old nature. You don't need any outward sign. That's absolutely irrelevant.

That is superfluous. And he goes a step further in verse 12, look at this. After all, you've had your own rite, R-I-T-E. You've had your own ceremony and it is baptism.

You were buried with Him in baptism in which also you're risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God who's raised Him from the dead. Now, there is no water in verse 12. Verse 12 is very dry. Some of you say, you see, Paul is teaching baptismal regeneration.

Folks, Paul would never do that. You think he would get rid of one ceremony just to bring in another one? If he does have spiritual reality in mind in verse 11, you can believe he has it in mind in verse 12. He would never say the change from spiritual death to spiritual life is done by water. That would make him as much a ritualist as those whom he was condemning. He is a champion of spirituality, not ceremony.

You say, well, what's he talking about here? What is this baptism? It pictures the union of a believer with Christ.

The word simply means placed into. You were placed into Christ. And of course, water baptism is the beautiful picture of it.

And the terminology became synonymous in the early church and still is often. When you became a Christian, it's as if you were buried, you died and you rose again in new life. Through the faith of the operation of God who raised him from the dead, just as God raised Jesus, so He raised you from the dead when you believed in Christ. Your old life died and was buried and you rose in new life. The believer then, when you put your faith in Christ, you're buried with Christ. It's as if you go right to the cross and you're hanging there on the cross, literally as if God propels you 2,000 years backwards in history in His timeless mind and slams you into that cross and you die there and you're buried there on the third day, you come out of the grave with Christ in new life. We are so identified by faith with Him that we are in His death, we are in His burial and we are in His resurrection.

Tremendous, tremendous truth. And it's all done by the operation of God. Notice this, the word is energy. God's energy, God's resurrection power. God who raised Him from the dead raises you from the dead so that when you receive Christ, you are buried, your old life dies, and you become alive. And listen, folks, there are only two things you can be, either dead or alive. And when you are alive, you are alive.

And that is precisely what happens. There's one little footnote to notice in there, in the middle of verse 12 it says, through faith, through the faith in the operation of God. We who believe in God's power, we who believe that God raised Jesus from the dead will also be raised with Him.

Is that right? Romans 10, 9 and 10, If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in thine heart, that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. When you believe that and confess with your mouth, your old life dies, is buried, and you rise in newness of life, a spiritual miracle.

And you know what you experienced and I experienced? The same power with which He raised Jesus from the dead. Look at me at Romans 6, because you have to compare Romans 6. Sometimes we read this at our baptismal services. Romans 6, verse 3, Great, great chapter. Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into His death? Again, when you were entered into a union with Christ, I think Romans 6 is dry too, like Colossians 2. He's talking about the spiritual baptism, not the water. As you were placed into Jesus Christ, you died with Him, verse 4, you were buried with Him by baptism into death, and as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also walk in newness of life. We died with Him, we rise with Him.

Verse 6, watch it. Knowing this, that our old man, what is the old man? What's another term for it? The old nature, right? Self, the old self, the old nature. That our old nature is crucified with Him, here's the same terminology, that the body of sin might be slightly altered. Is that what it says?

It might be what? Destroyed. The old nature was wiped out. That henceforth we would no longer be the slaves of sin, for he that is dead is freed from sin. You say, but John, in what way are we freed from sin? We're not freed from never doing it again.

No, that's not what he's saying. What he's saying is you're free from its consequences. The wages of sin is what? Death. How many times can sin kill you?

Once, all right? If you're a Christian, it already has done it, you've already died. Sin comes along and says, MacArthur, I'm going to get you because you have to die. I say, I've died already, thank you. You can only kill me one time and that's it. You say, when did you die? I died in Jesus Christ. The moment I put my faith in Him, I was crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, I live. I died once, it's your tough luck, I rose from the dead. And now sin has no claim on me because I died in Christ.

Every man will die for his sin, either alone and spend eternity in hell or in Christ and spend eternity with God. You say, well, what does death mean for us than when we die physically? That's just getting rid of the problem. So the good part can be released. Big deal.

That's terrific. And so what he's saying here in Romans is, look, the old man is done away with. The old nature is destroyed and now you are free from sin's bondage.

Oh, you're going to mess around and goof up because of the problem of the flesh that is there. But sin cannot lay a claim on you. Look at verse 10, For in that he died, he died unto sin... How many times?

Once. In that he lives, he lives unto God. Verse 9, Christ being raised from the dead dies no more. Death has no more dominion over him. He dies once. That's the end of death's dominion. Verse 11, Likewise reckon you yourselves to be dead unto sin. How many times do you have to die to it then?

Once. And you have. And sin and death and hell and Satan have no claim on you.

Tremendous truth. And so we summarize the verses in Colossians this way. You believers, you have no need of external circumcision. You have already received the true circumcision of the heart and life. Your whole sinful nature has been cut away. You received it by virtue of your union with Christ by faith. When He was buried, you, your former wicked selves, were buried with Him. When He was resurrected as new creatures, you were resurrected with Him.

All by the power of God when you believed. It is done. It is complete. The old nature is dealt with.

New life has begun. Complete salvation is yours. You don't need anything else.

So when somebody comes along and says, Well, I know you have to believe, but also you have to keep the Ten Commandments. No. But also you have to do this or this. No. If you don't, you're going to get it. No. I already died once and that's all there is.

He died once and He dieth no more. And that's the stand. Complete salvation. It's fantastic, isn't it? Second, in what way is our completion in Christ seen here? Complete salvation. Secondly, complete forgiveness. This is so great.

I love it. Complete forgiveness. I don't know about you, but probably the most exciting doctrine in all the Bible is forgiveness to me.

I mean, let's face it. Knowing what I know, if I felt guilty all the time for my sins and felt like they weren't forgiven, I'd be a basket case. Complete forgiveness.

This approach is the same reality from another aspect. The first one emphasized the completeness of salvation apart from ritual, and this emphasizes the completeness of forgiveness apart from any work. Look at verse 13. And you, being dead in your sins, in the uncircumcision of your flesh, has He made alive, together with Him, having forgiven you, most of your trespasses. All.

All. Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross. This is so rich. I don't know whether I can give it all that it deserves, but boy, I spent some time on these verses.

These are just loaded. So notice the He and the Him in there, contrasted with the you. And you, dead in your sins, in the uncircumcision of your flesh, doesn't sound too good, hath He made alive, together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses. You are in bad shape, but He conquered it all. You share His resurrection life. You were dead in your sins. You know what it means to be dead in your sins? You know what it means to be dead in sin? Well I've illustrated it many times, the word dead in your sins is also used, that phrase also used in Ephesians 2, 1, and it appears there, I think in the very same form here, it's what you'd call a locative of position.

It's speaking about a positional thing. You are dead in sin. I mean, when you were born, you were born dead spiritually. And what does death mean?

It means an inability to respond. You see dead people and you can do whatever you want and they don't react. Dead people can't respond. That is the signal that somebody's dead.

They don't respond. That's what spiritual death is, to be dead in sin means to be so locked in sin that you are unable to respond to God, you see? The Bible makes no sense. Spiritual truth makes no sense. You're lost in the sinfulness of the world and the flesh and the devil. And you can't react to God because you are dead and you do not respond to stimulus. You're a spiritual corpse. It wasn't bad enough that you're dead in your sin, He also says you're uncircumcision of your flesh.

Now what does that mean? That's a reference to Gentiles. He says you are dead in your sins and your Gentile situation. You say, what's so bad about being a Gentile?

I don't know why you want to say that. Gentiles were uncircumcised, you know what that meant? Outside the covenant. They did not have the truth of God. It's bad to be dead in sin. It's double bad to be dead in sin and not have any hope because you don't have the truth, right? The Jew might be dead in sin, but at least he was in an environment where the covenant of God was operative. But a Gentile was dead in sin and he was outside of that. Listen to Ephesians 2 11, wherefore remember that you in past time were Gentiles uncircumcised. Verse 12, he defines it, and at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

That's pretty sad. One thing to be dead in sin, but it's doubly serious to be dead in sin outside the covenant, outside the promise, with no hope, without God in the world because you have no information, you have no revelation. So he says God looks down on you people, dead in your sins, without Him, without hope, without information, without revelation, and what did he do? What's the one thing a dead man needs most? Life. So what does it say in 13? Hath He, what, made alive together with whom?

Whom? Christ, having forgiven you all trespasses. He says you Gentiles, outside the covenant, outside the promises, and I think too there's a symbolic implication in the uncircumcision of your flesh in which he's saying that's an apt symbol of the fact that they were still subject to the old nature. You're dead in sin and subject to your old nature until He came along and made you alive.

Fantastic. That's precisely what it says in Ephesians 2, verse 5, God who is rich in mercy for His great love with which He loved us even when we were dead in sins hath made us alive together with Christ. What do you mean together with Christ?

I mean this, people, and I don't know how it works. In some mysterious divine way, when you receive Christ, God fires you back 2,000 years, puts you on the cross with Christ, in the grave with Christ, and raises you with Christ. I don't understand that miracle, it's fantastic. He says, Ephesians 2, 5, made us alive together with Christ. Colossians 2, 13, He made alive together with Him. Somehow we are in union with Christ. He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit, 1 Corinthians 6, 17, when He rises, we rise. So you see dead men, utterly defeated, utterly dominated by sin, powerless to break the chains of sin that bind them, powerless to discover the truth of God without hope, without God, without any choice, locked into the sinful nature and all of a sudden God makes them alive. Now you tell me who initiates salvation. And you hear people say, and they say it meaningfully, I found the Lord.

No, He found you. You have no more power to overcome your sin than a dead man does to overcome his own death. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.

Thanks for being with us. John is a pastor, conference speaker, and chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. He has titled his current study, Complete in Christ. John, today you hit on the crux of Christian living, putting off the old self and putting on the new, and obviously that's a personal and individual process, but we are all part of a body, the body of Christ, so there's a communal aspect. The church plays an important role in the process of my sanctification, and I want you to talk about that.

What is the best way regular Christians, non-pastors, laypeople, can help other church members overcome sin? Yeah, well, you're saying a lot there, Phil, and I think you're recognizing the fact that God never designed us to live our Christian life by ourselves, alone. And that's clear, because we are designed by God in the body of Christ with unique gifts, and we are dependent on each other because of those gifts. If I have the gift of teaching, my gift is not for me, it's for all those people who benefit from my teaching. If somebody else has the gift of faith and exercises prayer, all the rest of us draw the blessing and the benefit from that.

If somebody else has the gift of edification, on it goes, helps, whatever they might be. So I think the recognition is this, that even though I have all resources in Christ, there is a necessity that I not forsake the assembling together, because there's a sense also, even though Christ is in me as an individual, in a grand way, Christ comes to me in the church. In other words, the church is the body of Christ. And at another level, at an exponential level, all the richness of Christ spread among believers blesses me as I interact with those believers, because Christ works through them in unique ways. So being a part of a local church is essential.

Being a part of a faithful local church, a biblical local church, a Christ-exalting local church is really a command that the Lord has given us, not because it's a duty that he expects us to fulfill, but because it's the only way that you can really live your Christian experience to the max. I want to mention a free booklet titled Your Local Church and Why It Matters. And we'll give one of these to anyone who asks, okay?

All you have to do is ask. We'll give you a copy free of charge of your local church and why it matters, free to anyone who requests it. Just let us know you want one. We'll give it to you today, and you'll find it very helpful in laying out the reasons God wants you to be involved in a church where Christ moves and where he operates in his fullness.

That's right. And, friend, the reasons you and every believer need to be part of a church are far greater and more numerous than you may realize. I encourage you to ask for your free copy of Your Local Church and Why It Matters. Request your booklet today.

Call our customer service team at 800-55-GRACE or go to our website, Your Local Church and Why It Matters will help you see why engaging with the body of Christ is so important for your spiritual growth. It will also show you what to look for in a local fellowship and how to know this is a church that honors the Lord. Again, for your free booklet, call 800-55-GRACE or go to

The name of the book, again, Your Local Church and Why It Matters. And if you're looking for more resources on God's design for the church or some other topic, make sure you visit our website. We have thousands of free resources available on issues like The Substance of Faith or God's Plan for the Family, The Life of Christ, and much more. You can read blog articles, you can follow along with the MacArthur Daily Bible's reading plan, and you can download any of John's more than 3500 sermons. Again, all of those resources and more are yours free at Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to be here tomorrow when John looks at the incredible depths of God's forgiveness for sinners like you and me. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-11 17:18:37 / 2023-05-11 17:29:28 / 11

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