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Christ is Enough…to Transform the Inner Man (Blog & Podcast)

October 26, 2018

Recently I heard the testimony once again of Russ Taff. For those who don’t know, Russ Taff has been a popular singer in Christian music for nearly 40 years. He joined the Imperials in the early 1980’s, when they were at the top of the Christian music world. He’s won many awards as a soloist and is also a former member of the Gaither Vocal Band. But, as much as it has it has appeared that Russ had it all together on the outside, he would tell you a different story.

Russ Taff grew up the son of a Pentecostal preacher, but his home was far from perfect. His parents continually told him that he and his brothers would never amount to much and that they weren’t worth anything. As it turns out, Russ’s dad struggled with his own sense of worth and couldn’t deal with the guilt of trying to “measure up” to the Lord. The way he dealt with his guilt was to try and forget about it by turning to alcohol. Russ said he was always in love with Jesus but was always afraid of him. However, he had musical talent and wanted to sing for the Lord, so he began to do that and had good success. However, the pain never really went away. One night he turned to alcohol and discovered the pain was gone for a few hours. You can guess how the story developed. He felt he was living a double-life and ended up depending on alcohol to manage life.

He will tell you that it could have been avoided if he had known the grace of God earlier in life. The God he was taught about was a God who rewards obedience and punishes disobedience.

This is much the same principle as Paul was dealing with in Galatians with the Judaizers trying to convince the new Galatian believers that their freedom was a lie and that they needed to go back to the old ways of being justified by obedience to the law. Just as Russ Taff found out – we can never be good enough, do enough, or earn enough.

Galatians 4:28-31, 28 Now you too, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as then the child born as a result of the flesh persecuted the one born as a result of the Spirit, so also now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Drive out the slave and her son, for the son of the slave will never be a coheir with the son of the free woman.” 31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of a slave but of the free woman.

Paul uses the story of Abraham and Sarah from Genesis to give a Biblical picture of justification by the law, or slavery, versus grace. Abraham was called by God at age 75 to “go” to a land he would show him, and that he would have many descendants. Up to this point, he and Sarah had been married many years and were unable to have children, which many interpreted as a sign of a curse. Ten years later, Abraham is 85 and there is no child yet. Sarah becomes impatient and offers her maidservant Hagar to Abraham to give him a male heir. This is legal, but not in the will of God. Hagar gives birth to Ishmael and Sarah grows jealous. Jealous to the point that Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael away, but God intervenes and brings them back. Twenty-four years after the initial call, at age 99, Abraham receives God’s revelation again. He will have a son, and he should be named Isaac. God later appears to Sarah and reveals this to her. Sarah laughs, but Isaac is born. Oh, by the way, Isaac means “laughter”. When Isaac turned 3, it was time for his weaning ceremony. Ishmael is 17 by this time and he comes and mocks Isaac and causes a scene. Once again, Abraham feels it necessary to send Hagar and Ishmael on their way.

You see the child that was born through the flesh kept causing issues because they took the issue into their own hands and couldn’t fix the issues. The child of promise, Isaac, was used by God to father Jacob, who was later re-named Israel. We have Ishmael – born through flesh and Isaac – born through promise. We have Hagar, who was a slave woman and Sarah, who was a free woman. We have Hagar and Ishmael, representing slavery and Sarah and Isaac, representing freedom. We have Ishmael who was persecuting and Isaac who was persecuted. We have earthly Jerusalem, representing the world, and slavery and the Heavenly Jerusalem representing freedom. What we have is a wonderful picture of the curse of trying to be justified by the law and the blessings of the grace of God.

The Judaizers were trying to demonstrate their obedience through external means, through works, but the what God is looking for is a willing vessel so that He can transform the inner man, which then will affect the behaviors.

Here are 3 Truths from Abraham and Sarah about Transforming the Inner Man

  • The old nature cannot be controlled by the law– Only the Holy Spirit can control strongholds. We cannot.
    • Romans 6:6, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin,”
  • Slavery should be identified and cast out– Whatever troubles you, walk away from it, change your circumstances.
    • 5:1, “For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
  • Transformation brings freedom to the inner man– It’s the inner man that condemns us, not the outer man.
    • 2 Corinthians 4:16, “Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.”

Russ Taff grew up believing that none of us could ever be good enough, and he’s right, except for grace. Grace transforms, grace heals, grace restores, grace keeps, and grace never let’s go. Let grace transform your inner man today and leave the results to God.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

From → Blog Posts, Podcasts

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