The new life in Christ does not add onto or build upon the old foundation, it builds on the new foundation of regeneration. The new birth is associated with being crucified with Christ. The reality of the new birth and the indwelling of the Holy Spirits do not mean that one’s life is automatically guided or domineered by the Holy Spirit. However, there is evidence that something real happened internally to the person who confesses Christ
In my last blog, I wrote about what I believe to be an urgency upon American Evangelicalism to recover the truth about which Schaeffer wrote in True Spirituality. History reveals evangelicalism has experienced a shift in focus beginning sometime in the 1980s. Part of that shift was the new emphasis on “relevancy to culture”. It is also important to point out that at this time evangelicals began talking about “culture” instead of “the world”. The importance of this shift is that the idea of culture is rather ambiguous as can be seen by all the books today trying to explain culture (this is another part of the story to be addressed later). It is not that Christians should not talk about culture, but it should always be in the context of “the world” and the spirit of the age.
Undoubtedly there is an element of wisdom in being relevant if one means speaking meaningfully into the ears of the world. It is a matter of wisdom, not a command. Furthermore, relevancy is not the emphasis in either the Old or New Testaments. Unfortunately, relevancy has become the interpretive lens through which many evangelicals now read the Scriptures (more on this in a forthcoming post).
Consequently, the relationship between the Christian life and the life of self-denial has been leaking out of the Christian message as it does not sound very relevant to the ears of today. In the next blog, I will give an account of how this happened, but for this blog, it is important to consider the New Testament teaching on the Christian life as a life involving self-denial.
Chapter two of True Spirituality is titled “The Centrality of Death” where Schaeffer examines the Scripture regarding the role of death in understanding the message of walking in the newness of life. Of course, that sounds odd to our ears today as the evangelical speaks only of the newness of life which of course is definitely true to the Christian message, but there is the other side.
The Apostle Paul testifies: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal 2:20). In the context of “walking in newness of life” we read: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions” (Ro 6:12) which is a call to self-denial. However, it is common today to hear the message that self-denial is an ugly form of legalism and therefore, it must be rejected. This has led many evangelicals to reject or only selectively apply the idea of self-denial as part of the spiritual life.