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Experiencing the new life
- Jacob Ninan
Can we take for granted that those who are brought into God's kingdom will grow up spiritually? When some radical conversions take place where people sincerely repent from their sins, God does a deep and mighty transformation of their desires, and they experience a mighty impact of the new life in Christ. But many people come to Christ without truly giving up their old life and choosing to live for Christ. Certainly God will be at work in them through the Holy Spirit. But they also need to be taught many things about God's nature and His ways before they can stabilise in their spiritual life (He.5:12). Jesus told His disciples not only to preach the gospel but also to teach people to obey all that He had taught them (Mt.28:19,20).
This is specially relevant when people come to Jesus from anti-Christian backgrounds. A new believer in the Corinthian church continued to live with his father's wife (1Co.5:1). Simon who, after listening to the preaching of Philip, had believed and got baptised (Ac.8:13), was still in the bond of iniquity (v.23). Peter told him to repent of his wickedness because his heart was not right with God. It is a simplistic explanation to say that people like this have really had no proper conversion in the first place. Of course there are cases like that. But it is also true that in many cases their experience with the Lord is only partial, a first small step, and there is much to be set right. There is also need to build up a good Christian foundation in their lives. Their old worldview needs to be changed and brought into alignment with God's ways.
There are also many people who have yielded parts of their life to demonic influences, either by indulging their fleshly desires without restraint or by entering into occult practices where Satan rules. Even when such people come to Jesus in the sincerity of their heart it may be that they have not repented from such things or renounced such practices. Even born again, spirit baptised believers who enter into such indulgences find that Satan and his demons get a hold over those parts of their lives. Certainly the ownership of these people is with God because they have yielded to Jesus. But at the same time they have yielded a part of their lives to demonic oppression. Paul warns believers to be careful not to give the devil any foothold in their lives (2Co.2:10,11;Ep.4:26,27). People need to be taught to recognise what has happened and to give up all such connections through repentance and yielding such areas deliberately to God.
These changes do not happen automatically just because someone comes to Christ. That is why there is much need for pastors, teachers and counsellors to work with new people to provide the right foundation. Without this type of care it is easy to see why many of them are continuing to suffer from various types of bondages, and on the top of it all wondering why things are like this even though they believe in Jesus.